The cast of “Friends”... reunited on a couch.

Streaming columnist NICK OVERALL looks at the phenomena that is “Friends”... and “Seinfeld”.

A 30-second ad in the series finale of “Friends” in 2004 came with a $2 million price tag.

Nick Overall.

The episode was watched by more than 52 million people, making it one of the most viewed television events of all time, and the ending was considered by most viewers to have hit an emotional home run.

But for years that didn’t stop fans of the show that took the sitcom world by storm calling for just one more reunion episode.

Rumours, clickbait, fake trailers, interviews and social media posts all tried to point to the possibility of another instalment that would see the group get back together.

Hopes were dashed in a 2018 interview when Joey himself (Matt LeBlanc) said a reunion would never work.

But nearly two decades after the show's ending it was announced a reunion was indeed in the works.

Billboards and buses have been plastered around the world, the Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There For You” has been hammered on radio stations and on Thursday night (May 27)  “Friends: The Reunion” or “The One Where They Get Back Together” aired on Binge in Australia in tow with the original 10 seasons.

Was it a reunion? Yes. Was it the one many viewers were hoping for? Almost.

The episode isn’t a scripted glimpse into the future lives of the housemates, but rather the cast reminiscing on their time on the show in an interview with James Corden.

In fairness, the producers of the reunion had said this was the case, but the gargantuan marketing campaign also didn’t exactly ram the point home.

Regardless, “Friends” fanatics seem to have got quite the kick out of the cameos, in-jokes and the cast reuniting on the original set, which served up quite the emotional response.

As someone who watched the show not religiously but certainly regularly, I found the reunion enjoyable, if at times a little overproduced, but ultimately one that nostalgically justified its existence.

The whole thing does leave the bitter-sweet question of what a new, original episode could have looked like though.

LeBlanc indeed posited some wisdom in his 2018 interview when he said a revival wouldn’t work due to it only being about one particular stage of people’s lives: that place in your 20s when the future is so rapidly approaching but also feels like such a mystery.

But what if you’re a 30-something single with a vague identity, no roots and a conscious indifference to morals?

That’s how the characters of the other mega ‘90s comedy hit “Seinfeld” have been described and it just so happens that they’re also getting a new streaming home this month.

In an exclusive worldwide deal, Netflix will be getting all 180 episodes of the show about everything and nothing and, thanks to a new scan of the original film it was shot on, it’ll be watchable in an updated, crystal-clear quality.

It’s fascinating that both series were such huge successes in the ‘90s despite differences that couldn’t be greater.

On one hand, there’s the more sentimental and conventionally romantic atmosphere of “Friends” and on the other, there's the meta and emotion eschewing vibe of “Seinfeld”.

And despite their differences, both hold such similar numbers in terms of viewership. It's a testament to their success that even today they’re still as sought after in streaming as they once were on commercial television.

As for those wanting a reunion of Jerry, Elaine, George and Cosmo, it’s probably not worth getting hopes up for.

When “Seinfeld” ended Jerry was reportedly offered over $100 million by NBC for a tenth season that, even then, he rejected to ensure the show could go out on a high.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

 

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Ian Meikle, editor