No, that’s not a typo: Friends stars are being paid $20 million by HBO Max to sit around and talk about the pop culture TV hit. In the immortal words of Phoebe Buffet (Lisa Kudrow), “it’s madness I tell you. For the love of God Monica (HBO Max) don’t do it.”
To confirm, that’s $3 to $4 million to each of the main six cast members, Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Phoebe, Monica (Courteney Cox), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Chandler (Matthew Perry), and Ross (David Schwimmer).
I thought the $425 million spent on a 5-year exclusivity deal was over the top, yet nostalgia is king. However, this $20 million is nothing but waste. It would be better spent on spin-off pilots appealing to Friends fans because they’ve already tried this unscripted special route and it sucked.
An unscripted special
Want to know how this unscripted special, as reported by Deadline will play out? The main cast and show creators will be sitting in a Central Perk set, they’ll be asked questions about the phenomenon and answering. It’s boring nonsense — not worth $20 million. And we’ve already had it once in 2016.
Questions will include the cast’s favorite episodes, their worst episodes, why it has left such a lasting memory, blah blah blah. Answers you can get by doing a quick Google search right now.
What’s really sad is that this not-so-special is a marketing carrot HBO are dangling, “Hey! Join HBO Max, we’ve got a Friends reunion exclusive!” Boom. That’s subscribers in the bank. As a fan of great content it’s infuriating, but from a business stance, it makes a lot of sense, especially as their new original content for the streaming platform is less male-focused.
Friends HBO Max’s biggest attraction?
No, it’s not. HBO Max has a library almost every streaming service would swap for their own. They have The Sopranos, The Wire, Real Time with Bill Maher, and recently, The Outsider. It’s a who’s who of top-rated quality, and that’s before we dig into everything else the service will stream.
The sole reason Friends is a big streaming deal is because it dominated Netflix viewership for a while, along with The Office (U.S.). The show used to be on TV in this house all the time, yet it was passive content. It was the thing you go back to when you cannot be bothered to find something new to watch. It’s the backing track to the phone and tablet lifestyle we lead, the filler between social media binges and YouTube clips.
Nostalgia is powerful, but after watching each episode 10-plus times, are you really still watching it? I know the truth in this household, and amongst friends I’ve asked. The answer is no.
Would you prefer HBO Max use that $20 million on Friends spin-off shows, or this unscripted special? Let us know on social media.