Now that “How I Met Your Mother” is over, “New Girl” officially holds the title of Biggest Sitcom About Silly Friends Doing Silly Things. But you still find yourself tuning in every night to old reruns of the series that started our generation’s love for this type of show: “Friends.” No matter what any sitcom does now, it will always get compared to “Friends.” It’s like “The Simpsons” with animation. Everyone is just waiting to criticize you for copying an idea or point out how you got your main characters together too fast (looking at you, “New Girl”). So what’s the solution? Come up with a new show that reinvents the idea of what it means for friends to exist in our society while delivering fresh ideas and jokes? Nah, that’s too much work. Instead, we should bring back “Friends” with the original cast! Hold onto your pantsuits, people.
Each cast member of “Friends” was paid $1 million per episode by the end of the show’s run. Granted, with residual checks still coming in, I highly doubt any of them are hurting for cash. But at this point, they’d all have to at least give some serious consideration to getting that kind of money again. The hold out would normally have been Jennifer Aniston, since she went on to have major film success. But her star power has waned somewhat in the last several years, so I don’t think she’s the immediate “no” she once was. Honestly, I think the people you’d have the hardest time convincing would be David Crane and Marta Kauffman. They’re responsible for creating and writing one of the funniest shows of all time, and they would be much more hesitant about ruining the legacy of their creation than any of the actors are. Also, they’re each worth $250 million, so they have basically no incentive whatsoever.
But let’s take away all of those issues. How? We don’t reboot the series now. We wait another 20 years for everyone’s career to slow down enough that they would be willing to come back to TV and cash a steady paycheck. It’s not even a reboot as much as it is a ridiculously long-awaited sequel. This is my pitch for “Friends” in the year 2034.
Premise: It’s 40 years after the pilot of the original series. The friends are all in their mid to late 60s, and have slowly lost contact with each other over the years. Chandler and Monica are still together after 30 years, but their marriage is rocky. Their twins, Erica and Jack, (played by Elle Fanning and the kid from “Hugo”) are worried that their parents are going to end up killing each other now that they’ve had an empty nest for 10 years. They team up with Ben Geller (Cole Sprouse reprising his role), Emma Geller-Green (Abigail Breslin), the kid Phoebe and Mike had in between the events of “Friends,” to get their parents to move into a retirement community in Boca Raton. The friends are unwilling to go at first, but once they see how nice the place is, and that they’ll live next to their old friends, they all agree.
But where’s Joey? Great question, reader. Joey has enjoyed a long, full career as an actor. He shockingly won six Oscars for playing, in order, a transgendered firefighter working on a space station, two presidents during a national crisis, an alcoholic librarian, a Gold Rush-era train conductor with a dark past, and a soda fountain clerk in Birmingham during the Civil Rights protests. He’s been in retirement for a few years, but there’s an offer on the table to come back to the role of Dr. Drake Ramoray–who has been brought back to life a second time–and is now the resident physician of a retirement community. It’s like “Grey’s Anatomy” with old people on a golf course, but with more sex. Joey initially rejects the offer, but when he finds out the old gang is moving into an actual retirement community, he agrees to do the show, on the condition that they shoot it on location, rather than on a sound stage in Los Angeles.
So now we’ve got all six friends back together, plus Paul Rudd as a series regular, because who doesn’t want that?
What do they do now? Well, there are a lot of storylines we can run with. We drove the “will they or won’t they” story into the ground with Ross and Rachel, so instead, we make those two crazy people the steady relationship anchor of the show. In the pilot we (gasp) have Monica and Chandler decide to separate. They’re not getting divorced, but they’re also not ruling out finding love with one of the other dozens of retirees in the community. Phoebe has become “normalized” by her average life of raising kids, so we want to see her find her way back to being the Regina Phalange we all know and love. Plus, Joey will get into all sorts of trouble trying to star in his own show in the same place where he and his friends actually live.
We’ll also get to see all of our favorite actors come back in updated versions of their old roles. Will Colbert (Brad Pitt) is the community fitness instructor, Rachel’s sister, Jill (Reese Witherspoon) lives in the more expensive community next door, Emma’s handsome “manny,” Sandy (Freddy Prinze, Jr.) is now Emma’s much older husband (much to Ross and Rachel’s annoyance). And of course, we know that Dr. Richard Burke (Tom Selleck) got into real estate at the end of the original series, so he obviously owns the whole community. But the greatest side character coming back? Alec Baldwin will return to the role of Parker, Phoebe’s batshit insane boyfriend who loves everything he sees. He’s the director of the whole community.
There are dozens of comedic storylines we can follow, but there will also be some dramatic ones, too. Monica starts to develop signs of Parkinson’s as the show goes on, which affects her ability to keep stuff neat and tidy, which is both hilarious and sad. Don’t worry, we’ll get Michael J. Fox on as a name-only producer so we can get away with it. Maybe somebody gets cancer. Maybe Ross gets way too into golf, and Rachel takes out her frustration by flirting with his golfing buddies–only Ross is too into the game to notice, which makes her even more upset? I don’t know, people, these are just ideas!
Ultimately, all of this doesn’t matter. Character arcs and episode ideas don’t sell a TV show. You know what sells a TV show? The elevator pitch, a logline that explains the whole show in a single sentence. I can say this one phrase in any room of executives in Hollywood, and the show will get an automatic green light for at least seasons:
“It’s the cast of “Friends” plus Paul Rudd, at the age of the “Golden Girls,” doing “Friends” stuff, except the whole thing takes place in the retirement community in Florida that “Seinfeld” sent his parents to.”
You can make the check out to cash.