The long-anticipated Friends reunion is almost here.
Well, sort of.
On Sunday, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc and Jennifer Aniston will appear on the NBC special Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows. Along with members of the casts of Taxi, Will & Grace, Frasier and Cheers, the actors will celebrate Burrows, the legendary sitcom director who has made the medium what it is today.
So, unlike Fuller House and the Gilmore Girls reboot, don’t expect this reunion to tell you whether Monica and Phoebe are still tight. And don’t expect a full reunion, because one cast member is notably absent from the above list: Matthew Perry. He is currently performing in a West End production of The End of Longing, and his schedule prevented him from making it to the tribute.
If those disclaimers don’t disappoint you too much, you’re in luck. Based on the preview clips that NBC has released, there’s a lot to enjoy about the special. Watch What Happens: Live host Andy Cohen moderates the discussion between Kudrow, Schwimmer, Cox, LeBlanc and Aniston, and there are some touching, insightful and hilarious moments teased.
Naturally, the overarching theme is the impact Burrows has had on their lives. Kudrow shares a story about how Burrows allowed the Friends cast to use his extra-large dressing room as a casual hangout space for bonding (and poker games), which proved necessary for developing the chemistry for the show. Schwimmer adds his own memories, discussing how Burrows served as a mentor when Schwimmer was learning how to be a director. (In addition to films like Run, Fatboy, Run and Trust, Schwimmer ultimately had the opportunity to direct 10 episodes of Friends in addition to playing Ross Geller.)
But Aniston may be the one who put it best: “We would do anything for Jim Burrows, because he really gave us the opportunity of a lifetime and probably the best 10 years of our acting careers that we will forever remember.” Considering all the award love that Aniston received for her performance in Cake last year, speaking of Friends (which ended over a decade ago) with such regard is incredibly high praise.
There are also some great moments that hint at the camaraderie that the actors still share all these years later. In one of the clips, Kudrow talks about her audition process and asks the others if they remember auditioning for Burrows.
“I remember meeting with Jimmy…” Schwimmer starts to respond before Kudrow teases, “That’s not auditioning.” To which Schwimmer responds with (what appears to be) a hearty, authentic laugh, the sort reserved for those specific people in your life who know how to poke fun at you in the truest but most loving ways.
Which isn’t to say that there’s no tension to be found in the reunion. Notably, Schwimmer and Aniston sit on opposite ends of the row — a big shift from the closeness they exuded as Ross and Rachel. Could Schwimmer still feel hurt about being left off the invite list for Aniston’s wedding? Here’s hoping that this is an issue with the clip editing and that, on the actual reunion special, we’ll see some deeper tenderness and warmth between them. We’ll just have to tune in Sunday night to find out.
Want to see more of your Friends? Tune into Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows on NBC, this Sunday at 9/8c. In the meantime, check out the preview clips below.