Friends Writer Reveals How the Actors Were Disinterested & Ruined Jokes
F.R.I.E.N.D.S writer Patty Lin reveals that being a writer for one of the most popular sitcoms ever wasn’t as giggly as the show’s theme.
Premiering in 2004, the sitcom revolves around six friends, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer, whose lives always seem to be stuck in ‘second gear.’
The show has been off the air for almost two decades but remains at the zenith of pop culture thanks to its record-breaking watch hours on streaming platforms.
Working on F.R.I.E.N.D.S might sound like a dream come true for many, but it was not the reality for Lin.
Lin recalls her time writing for F.R.I.E.N.D.S in her new book, End Credits: How I Broke Up With Hollywood (via Time).
She joined the team in 2000 (when F.R.I.E.N.D.S was at its peak), but the experience wasn’t exactly enjoyable for Lin, who faced several adversities in her new role. Read about in the excerpt from her book below:
But the novelty of seeing Big Stars up close wore off fast, along with my zeal about breakfast. The actors seemed unhappy to be chained to a tired old show when they could be branching out, and I felt like they were constantly wondering how every given script would specifically serve them. They all knew how to get a laugh, but if they didn’t like a joke, they seemed to deliberately tank it, knowing we’d rewrite it. Dozens of good jokes would get thrown out just because one of them had mumbled the line through a mouthful of bacon. David and Marta never said, “This joke is funny. The actor just needs to sell it.”
Once the first rewrite was finished, we’d have a run-through on the set, where the actors would rehearse and work out blocking with the director. Then everyone would sit around Monica and Chandler’s apartment and discuss the script. This was the actors’ first opportunity to voice their opinions, which they did vociferously. They rarely had anything positive to say, and when they brought up problems, they didn’t suggest feasible solutions. Seeing themselves as guardians of their characters, they often argued that they would never do or say such-and-such. That was occasionally helpful, but overall, these sessions had a dire, aggressive quality that lacked all the levity you’d expect from the making of a sitcom.
Based on F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ timeline, Lin worked on the show during season 7, which was spent entirely towards preparing for the grand wedding of Monica and Chandler. Lin worked as the executive story editor for all 24 episodes of season 7 but didn’t return for season 8.
However, the show would end just three seasons after that. Despite creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman claiming that the ending was organic, it was reported that some cast members weren’t interested in continuing with the show beyond that point.
For instance, Jennifer Aniston revealed that it was difficult for her to slog through the show’s final episodes due to personal reasons. Lisa Kudrow claimed that some actors wanted to move on and engage in other projects.
Moreover, the production costs were skyrocketing, given that all six cast members reportedly earned a whopping $1 million per episode.
Finally, it was arguably for the best that F.R.I.E.N.D.S. ended after season 10. If the makers dragged the series with an incomplete cast, it’d only have tarnished the legacy of the series.
At least Kauffman and Crane could give a perfect send-off to the Central Perk gang!
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F.R.I.E.N.D.S is an American television sitcom created by David Crane, and Marta Kauffman which aired on NBC. The ensemble cast includes Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry. The show ran from 1994 to 2004 for ten seasons. A reunion by HBO is currently in the works.
The highly anticipated reunion episode of TV Show Friends will air on HBO max on 27 May. The reunion will cast the main six characters, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry.
It follows six friends in New York navigating life and relationships through their 20s and 30s.