Full(er) House, Will & Grace,
Roseanne … How about Friends?
Friends was a show about that time in your life when your friends are your family… Once you start having family of your own it changes, and the show was over. [T]here’s no reason to continue doing it just because people miss the characters. Watch the old ones, there is no way we could win that. And there’s no way it would be satisfying and it’ll never happen. We’ll never do it.
-Marta Kauffman, Deadline 6/27/2016
That’s pretty definitive. But let’s talk about it anyway. .
Kauffman has spoken often, and frequently with disdain, that people need to get over Friends and get on with their families. In many ways, Marta Kauffman is my George Lucas, unaware of what she co-created and ephebed since.
But let’s use her own words against her.
Family? Well let’s see:
Ben and Emma are half-siblings all grown up. And their non-blood related cousins are Jack and Erica (look at that? 2 boys and 2 girls already). Ben has two mommies and the Bing’s are adopted. They are a family but even more diversified than Modern Family or The Fosters. Dare we introduce Phoebe’s brother’s triplets (now you’ve got 7 with Chandler rebooted as a girl).
Regardless of the triplets, Joey should lead the show. Given how I feel about Joey’s and his desire to have kids, he’d be the perfect father figure for the group, able to give advice and talk about sex without being weird. And instead of being “dumb” he just comes across as old-fashioned.
Meanwhile episodes feature guest appearances from the cast we came to know and love for 10 years. So how would the old cast function? This gets dangerously into fan fiction territory but why not?
Ross and Rachel still haven’t gotten married
After 3 failed marriages, Ross is fearful of getting remarried. He and Rachel have been together for 10+ years now, but he refuses to propose and Rachel refuses to steal Monica’s thunder by proposing to her man. Their daughter Emma hates this and Ben holds this over her (at least dad married my mom).
Monica works a food truck
Eventually, Monica’s staff revolts against her tyrannical ways. As a result, she starts a food truck where she’s her own boss and has an immaculate kitchen/truck to boot. The sign outside reads “This is the menu. No substitutions, no subtractions.” If you thought her packing list and reading “check” to herself was bad, she barks orders from the cashier to herself to move faster.
Of course, because she’s food truckin’ it, she’s frequently traveling across the US. Chandler thinks that was the best way for her to handle empty nest syndrome.
This way she doesn’t need to be in every episode, but pop in and out.
(As an aside, a sort of weird meta parallel to Jon Favreau’s Pete [Chef])
Chandler does Monica’s digital marketing
Chandler runs a multi-million dollar digital marketing agency (with an emphasis on social media). He critiques his staff’s generated memes and jokes and, of course, frequently texts his kids. I mention the texting because you’ll get Jack saying to the group, “we should see what dad thinks, he’s usually got pretty good advice in these situations,” only to read the text later, “Could you kids be any smarter?”
And Chandler works long hours mainly because his most demanding client is none other than Monica. And Chandler believes that, without a staff to bark at, she saves all her commanding for him.
Phoebe is a rock star
Yup, after years of performing niche indie music in coffee shops, the hipster movement has made Phoebe legendary. Plus, her whole backstory lends itself to being a rock goddess, coming from a place of tragedy. She regularly tours, which is also why she’s noticeably absent much of the time.
The rest of the cast…
And the 4 core cast members are blank slates. Sure, you may have some episodes centered around the former cast — “The One Where Chandler Sexts Jack” which is on accident since Monica has been on the road awhile, but I can see Chandler trying to rationalize to Joey, “well, we’re not technically related by blood, so it’s not that bad.” And Joey reminding him he’s starting to sound like his father — but at it’s core the Friends reboot would be about dating and friends in the modern world.
- Instead of waiting by the phone for a date to call you back, you stalk them on Facebook.
- Instead of a blackout, the internet goes down.
- Instead of a jogger’s balls hanging out, you have Erica wondering if her date is a man, woman or transgender and navigating those feelings.
In terms of jobs, there’s much more flexibility with their hours. Jack could be a telecommuter for some tech company who dresses like a slob and has the routine of Joey but he’s actually making money.
Ben could be a professor who only teaches night courses 4 days a week.
Emma could be the poor vlogger trying to make a name for herself and continually getting recognized for the wrong reasons — a typo, a blemish, or leaving her live cam on for an awkward breakup.
And Erica could work strange and bizarre contract jobs with sketchy startups while trying to fund a kickstarter project on the side.
And Marta Kauffman, if you’re out there, watch the Ted Talks with Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Pray, Love). Friends was an ensemble, it’s not just you. This was lightning in a bottle and there’s more than enough material to capture the spirit of Friends without doing a direct sequel or movie.