Friends Reunion Is 'Curiously Empty'

And yet, fans of the show should find plenty to stay entertained
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2021 12:38 PM CDT

The Friends reunion has made its debut on HBO Max, and the first reviews are in. They're not exactly stellar, but most agree that fans of the show will likely enjoy the nearly two-hour special. It's not another fictional episode, more of a series of nostalgic recollections by the cast members. Some samples:

  • "To be clear: I really enjoyed watching Friends: The Reunion," writes Alissa Wilkinson at Vox. The special, however, felt "curiously empty" to her, and she didn't learn much new. The reunion "is a piece of streaming content that exists to reinforce its own existence, a special for a special’s sake," she writes. "It’s a way for a big company to capitalize on popular IP it owns and can’t reboot or sequel-ize in any other way. It’s fat-free red meat for fans, tasty and inconsequential. And because it tickles a very particular spot on my brain, I’m happy to gobble it right up."
  • If you're a diehard fan, watch and enjoy, writes Dominic Patten at Deadline. Anyone below the "diehard" threshold can safely skip this "exercise in calculated commerce," he writes. "Unlike the felicitous Friends itself, the special steps all over a lot of its cues and beats. Proving that brevity is indeed the soul of wit, the sprawling show is often hackneyed where you’d expect spontaneity and slipshod where you’d expect slick."
  • Linda Holmes of NPR writes that the special could have, and should have, been better. "Instead of being willing to accept that notes of melancholy are perfectly normal parts of reminiscing, it skitters away every time it's clear that time is stretching out for these actors in some unnerving way, and it takes shelter in something completely familiar: the clip show."
  • "When most of us say we’d love to see a specific TV show come back, what we really mean is that we want to see the characters together again and spend time in their company," writes Jen Chaney at Vulture. The reunion "scratches that itch in a way that another episode or a Friends follow-up movie probably would not." Another new story or episode wasn't necessary. "Some of the best moments in it are the ones that capture the six stars hanging out and reminiscing in what seems to be an unscripted context."
(More Friends stories.)

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