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Less botox, more nostalgia: what was missing in the anticipated 'Friends' reunion

The six protagonists back together after 17 years remind us why the show is one of the most watched in the history of TV

Less botox, more nostalgia: what was missing in the anticipated 'Friends' reunion  The six protagonists back together after 17 years remind us why the show is one of the most watched in the history of TV

The approach with which I faced the Friends reunion is the same as when on the highway you pass by an accident: on the one hand, you wouldn't want to miss anything, staring still at the scene, at the most of the morbidity; on the other hand, you're terrified that what you'll see will remain etched forever in your memory. Comforted by the trailer, which heralded a reunion without major twists and therefore without disappointments, I surrendered almost immediately to the vision of the special of one of the most successful sitcoms in the history of TV - the numbers listed by James Corden, inexplicable host of the event, are impressive - which fortunately avoided kamikaze operations like that of Will&Grace a few years ago. 

Here they are, finally together after 17 years from the end of the show, the six characters make their entrance one by one on the famous set of the series, and already from the first take the tears begin, theirs and ours. The best thing about the special is just this, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt Le Blanc, David Schwimmer gathered to chat, to reminiscent about the good old days, and that would have been enough. They sitting in Monica's living room, or on the sofa of Central Perk, to retrace the most beautiful scenes, the most memorable characters, the most exciting moments, the reactions of their children to the vision of the sitcom, they didn't even need an audience. This is what we wanted to see, them, together. The rest is unnecessary, and indeed, it almost feels like it has been designed for those who have never been *really* fans of the show: James Corden, Justin Bieber, Cara Delevigne, Mindy Kaling, even BTS, all useless personalities and completely distant from the show, not to mention that embarrassing interlude in which fans of all races and sexual orientations tell of how Friends changed their life, in a move not too veiled to silence everyone who, especially Gen Z, claims that Friends has never been enough inclusive or diverse, certainly the latest concern of the creators of the series. It's they, Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, who tell the most interesting anecdotes, the casting choices, the writing of the episodes, in a very rich focus designed for the most hardcore fans. 

The reacting of some of the most famous scenes of the show is the part that makes you want to do a complete rewatch of the ten seasons, and that's the high point of a very successful nostalgia operation. A lot has been said about how the actors have aged, who has aged the best, who has improved, and so on, but Matthew Perry is perhaps the worst witness of the passage of time, and not for his physical appearance, but instead for his brilliance, disappeared, for the very strong comic streak that made him so similar to Chandler. He's right there, but he's not really there, squished between the super-fit Jennifer Aniston and the grey-haired Joey (the images of the three girls and three boys are enough to understand the double standard between men and women on ageing in Hollywood). 

The nostalgia is there, strong and palpable, even for those who, like me, was a child in those years and discovered the Friends phenomenon only later, first on DVD and then on Netflix. It's clear that we are in front of something unrepeatable, from the alchemy of the cast members to the quality of the script, to the impact on the public and pop culture, in frames and behind the scenes videos that try to mimic The Last Dance. To give us the coup de grace there is the gossip that will remain the most, that of the real crush between Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer, Rachel and Ross, who already liked each other in the first season and found themselves kissing for the first time on national television. Also beautiful is the part in which the writers tell of the reaction of the audience to the discovery of the relationship between Monica and Chandler, this time only in the show, and how it was the viewers who shaped what became the most lasting relationship on the show. 

So, you say, is this special worth seeing in the end? If you are a true fan yes: despite the illustrious absences (in particular Paul Rudd, Phoebe's husband in the series) and the unnecessary guest stars (like Lady Gaga singing Smelly Cat), it's a nice dive into a perfect past in its comedy, in telling a specific moment in the life of each of us, in frames that make you want to dress in full 90s style. If you want to see it to comment on tweaks, botox, or, even worse, to say that How I Men Your Mother is funnier, then avoid it.