Oh! My! God! Friends is back, but what have they been up to—and which one are you?

·7-min read
Oh! My! God! Friends is back, but what have they been up to—and which one are you?
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

It was without a doubt the show of the Nineties and based on a simple premise: friendship. For a decade, millions of us tuned in week after week to watch six flailing twenty-something pals, sit around a coffee shop and help each other through life’s triumphs, tragedies and cock-ups. At the height of its popularity, nearly 52 million people watched Ross and Rachel finally get together, the cast raked in $1 million per episode and Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow were the highest-paid TV actresses in history.

Each and every one of the 236 episodes were adored (although, truthfully, there were some real humdingers — The One With Phoebe’s Rats, anyone?). We laughed, we cried, we over-quoted… but the award-winning sitcom wasn’t without its issues. Watching back from our more enlightened 2021 vantage point, many of the storylines are glaringly problematic. Themes of homophobia, sexism, fat-shaming, sexual harassment and an almost total lack of diversity with casting have thrown up some complicated feelings for those of us who loved the show the first time round. Yet it remains a cult classic and is now finding a new Gen Z audience on Netflix and HBO Max — the latter streaming platform has paid $425 million for a five-year deal.

Now it’s back for a long-awaited but also slightly dreaded reunion. The cast has (sensibly) always firmly batted off any suggestions of re-visiting the Friends glory days. A reunion “won’t be even close to as good to what it was, so why do it? It would ruin it,” said Jennifer Aniston not that long ago. Well, quite.

 (HBO)
(HBO)

Today, rather than a scripted, in-character episode, we’ll see the gang reminisce, relive and rehash via a chat show format hosted by Brit abroad James Corden. Special guests include iconic Friends supporting actors like Tom Selleck (Richard), Maggie Wheeler (Janice), James Michael Taylor (Gunther) and Reese Witherspoon (Jill). Disappointingly, Paul Rudd, who played Phoebe’s husband Mike, isn’t slated to appear. Other big names, including David Beckham, Lady Gaga and Malala Yousafzai are also on the bill, though in what tenuous capacity it remains to be seen.

The cast — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry — are reported to be earning $2.5 to $3 million each for the hour-long episode, making it another bumper pay day for the sextet, along with the estimated $10 to $20 million they each receive in syndication royalties annually. But what have they been up to since they shut up (coffee) shop 17 years ago — and who’s really been making the big bucks?

 (NBC Universal)
(NBC Universal)

Jennifer Aniston: Rachel Green

Net worth: $300 million [£212 million]

Aniston, 52, spawned a generation-defining haircut when she accepted the role of spoilt-little-rich-girl-made-good Rachel Green and became one of the highest earning actresses of all time. Of course, over the years it’s perhaps been her personal life we’ve kept on top of rather than her CV. Quick recap: she married Brad Pitt, divorced Brad Pitt, Brad Pitt married Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston dated Vince Vaughn, then John Mayer, before marrying then divorcing Justin Theroux. Often dismissed as a rom-com queen (both snobby and sexist), Aniston’s filmology is packed with modern classics. Think Marley & Me, The Break-Up, Horrible Bosses and Along Came Polly. She won critical acclaim for her depiction of a woman struggling with chronic pain in Cake and is now earning $2 million per episode in Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award. All that plus adverts for SmartWater, Aveeno and Emirates, her role as chief creative officer for Vital Proteins and her line of fragrances keep Aniston earning the big bucks. Star power: 5/5

 (CHANNEL FOUR)
(CHANNEL FOUR)

Courteney Cox: Monica Geller

Net worth: $150 million [£106 million]

After Friends, Cox, 56, enjoyed a successful six-season run as the lead, Jules Cobb, in sitcom Cougar Town for which she took home $275,000 per episode. She’s been the face of various beauty mega-brands, including Pantene, and set up a production company with her ex-husband David Arquette called Coquette Productions. She’s also apparently made millions over the years by flipping houses. Perry has also made a tonne of cash with savvy investment properties. Star power: 4/5

 (CHANNEL FOUR)
(CHANNEL FOUR)

Matthew Perry: Chandler Bing

Net worth: $120 million [£85 million]

Perry, 51, has been open about his struggle to overcome addiction to painkillers and alcohol, checking himself into rehab twice during his stint on Friends. “I don’t remember three years of it,” he told BBC Radio 2 in 2016. “So none of those… Somewhere between Season 3 and 6… I was a little out of it.” He’s starred in movies Fools Rush In, The Whole Nine Yards and 17 Again, where he played an older version of Zac Efron. He was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his depiction of inspirational teacher Ron Clark in The Ron Clark Story. Star power: 3/5

 (FRIENDS)
(FRIENDS)

Lisa Kudrow: Phoebe Buffay

Net worth: $90 million [£64 million]

Kudrow, 57, has popped up in supporting roles in movies P.S. I Love You, Easy A, Bad Neighbours and The Girl on the Train, as well as TV hits including Scandal, Grace and Frankie and The Good Place. She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Web Therapy which she created and starred in. If you haven’t seen her parody Kellyanne Conway in Charlie Brooker’s Death to 2020, please do so immediately.Star power: 4/5

 (CHANNEL FOUR)
(CHANNEL FOUR)

David Schwimmer: Ross Geller

Net worth: $85 million [£60 million]

More than any of the other Friends stars, Schwimmer, 54, seemed to struggle with being forever tied to the comedy and has spent much of the last two decades straining against being typecast as the hapless Ross Geller. He co-founded a theatre production company called Lookingglass, made his directorial debut with Run Fatboy Run, starred in HBO war drama Band of Brothers and was Emmy-nominated for his portrayal of Robert Kardashian in The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story. Most recently, you’ll have seen him careering around the UK in a camper van in an advert for TSB.Star power: 3/5

 (CHANNEL FOUR)
(CHANNEL FOUR)

Matt LeBlanc: Joey Tribbiani

Net worth: $80 million [£57 million]

The less said about Friends spin-off Joey, the better. It was canned halfway through the second season with eight episodes going unaired. It was truly bad TV for which it’s reported LeBlanc, 53, was paid $15 million. Since then, he’s had success in Episodes, where he played a fictionalised version himself, before going on to host Top Gear with Chris Evans. He was apparently paid $1 million a year, half of what Chris Evans was banking. Star power: 2/5

Quiz: Which Friend Are You?

You live:

a. In a bigger and more beautiful apartment than anyone you know

b.In someone else’s big and beautiful apartment

c. In a state of existential despair

d. Alone, with your dinosaurs

e.Inexplicably in a very central apartment, despite having no income stream

f.Inexplicably in a very nice apartment, despite disavowing capitalism

When you talk about your job, your friends:

a. Get hungry

b. Ask for a discount

c. Scream ‘transponster’ [sic] at you

d. Fall asleep

e.Ask how on earth you are paying your rent

f. Ask for a massage

You are on a date. Do you:

a. Ruin it by talking about your ex

b. Ruin it by accidentally showing their parents your saucy nightie

c. Date?

d. Ruin it by asking them to marry you

e. Ruin it by ghosting them afterwards

f. Ruin it by trying to read their aura

A - You are Monica

B - You are Rachel

C - You are Chandler

D - You are Ross

E - You are Joey

F - You are Phoebe

By Phoebe Luckhurst

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