Every generation grows up with certain TV shows that are iconic to them - shows that everyone watched religiously. For our parents, it was stuff like Soul Train or Dallas. These days it may be something like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. For my generation, the kids who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s, the one show that everyone watched religiously was definitely Friends. Looking back now, it was a great show, but I'm a little mystified as to why it elicited such a cult following from me and everyone I knew.
The "Rachel" was a hairstyle that every girl wanted back then, and every 13-year-old boy was trying his best "How YOU doin'?" to impress the girls. After every new episode, the next day's conversation was dominated by the events that occurred. What is the proper definition of being "on a break?" Remember how choked up you got when Chandler and Monica first confessed their true love? Friends was an international sensation, a show that will probably continue to air in syndication for the next several decades.
As obsessed as we all were with the show, I was actually pleasantly surprised to learn there were a lot of things I didn't know until now. Below are 21 facts about everyone's favorite group of friends.
1. One of the toughest scenes filmed during the show was when Rachel hears (Ross's baby) Ben's first words. Ross, in desperation to hear it again, repeatedly asks Ben to "say 'Dada'." The baby was supposed to stay quiet, but kept responding "Dada" every single time.
2. All of the Magna Doodles on Joey and Chandler's door were drawn by the show's electrical best boy, Paul Swain. All 94 of them can be seen here.
3. Courtney Cox married David Arquette shortly after season five. When season six aired, her name in the opening credits was changed to Courtney Cox Arquette. Just for fun, the entire cast also changed their last names to add "Arquette" (Matt LeBlanc Arquette, Lisa Kudrow Arquette, etc.).
4. Lisa Kudrow wasn't much of a guitar player, and even suggested changing Phoebe's instruments to the bongos at one point. After learning just a few chords from a guitar teacher, she made it a character choice for Phoebe to not be especially good at guitar.
5. In the episode "The One With The Dollhouse," the prop department actually made six identical houses out of cardboard in just three days, because the house catches on fire at the end of the scene and wouldn't be usable for other takes.
6. One episode took around five hours to shoot, largely due to the 15-20 breaks between scenes for wardrobe and set changes. The majority of the show was filmed in front of a live studio audience of as many as 300 fans, but they were ushered out for the filming of key moments to avoid spoilers.
7. Matthew Perry was starring in another pilot when Friends was pitched. The show, LAX 2194, was about baggage handlers at an airport. Thankfully, he got the role of Chandler Bing instead.
8. By now, the cast of Friends is synonymous with the characters they played. It'd be weird imagining anyone else, but the image below shows who some of the alternate choices could have been: Ellen DeGeneres as Phoebe, John Cryer as Chandler, Elizabeth Berkley as Rachel, Eric McCormack as Ross, Leah Remini as Monica, and Hank Azaria as Joey. SO WEIRD!
9. All six actors received $22,000 per episode for the first season, but by season two the show's executives tried to pay them each different amounts. The cast banded together and negotiated to make the same amount, eventually getting $100,000 per episode. It was one of the first major cases of a cast negotiating together. By the final season, they were each making $1 million per episode.
10. Matthew Perry starred with Bruce Willis in The Whole Nine Yards, and made a bet with Willis that if the movie hit #1 at the box office on its opening weekend, Willis would appear on Friends for free. Perry won and Willis appeared on the show as Ross' girlfriend's dad. He donated his earnings to charity.
11. The gang's main hangout spot, a cafe called "Central Perk," doesn't really exist in real life. Due to the show's popularity, however, fully functional fan replica cafes have opened up in China and the U.K.
12. The famous fountain from the opening credits is not in Central Park, as some may believe. This scene was actually shot on a Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California.
13. When actress Lisa Kudrow got pregnant during seasons 4 and 5 of the show, it was written into the story as her being a surrogate for her brother's triplets.
14. Although Eric McCormack did read for the part, David Schwimmer was the first actor cast for the show and much of Ross' character was written specifically for him.
15. When Lisa Kudrow got the role of Phoebe, she was already playing a recurring cameo as a rude waitress named Ursula on Mad About You. The show let her keep the other role, and even wrote Ursula into the Friends script as Phoebe's twin sister.
16. Prior to the show airing, director James Burrows took the whole cast out to Las Vegas. He had a feeling it'd be a huge success, so he wanted to let them enjoy anonymity one last time.
17. When Lisa Kudrow first read the script, she thought Chandler was gay. Over the first few years of the show, a lot of fans also asked that question, but the show's producers say that that was not their intent.
18. At the start of every week, before filming the first scene, the cast would always get together for a group hug/huddle.
19. Ross' pet monkey, Marcel, was actually played by two monkeys: Monkey and Kate. Marcel was written out of the show because the animal scenes were simply too time-consuming to shoot and the monkeys weren't always cooperative.
20. Friends was just one of many names being batted around for the show. Other options included Friends Like Us, Across the Hall, and, most inexplicably, Insomnia Cafe.
21. One day while on set, Courtney Cox was doing an impression of Anthony Michael Hall, most notably the line "Chicks cannot hold their smoke, that's what it is." While Matthew Perry insisted that the line was from Weird Science, Cox was certain it was from The Breakfast Club. The entire crew got involved in the debate until someone realized that Judd Nelson was at another lot nearby, which is how they confirmed the line as being from The Breakfast Club. As punishment for losing the bet, Perry had to do Cox's bidding as her "man slave."