Friends: The Reunion was a great celebration, but doesn't nearly go deep enough
So we're all just pretending that the Joey spin-off never happened...
We should've known the second James Corden appeared as the MC that this was all going to be very, very safe.
Friends: The Reunion was a must-watch for fans of the show, if only to spend some more time with these six best friends. But aside from maybe one revelation, there was nothing here that you wouldn't have seen from some behind-the-scenes or bloopers videos that have already existed on YouTube for years.
Was it funny to watch the actors laugh at their own hilarious outtakes all these years later? Absolutely.
Did we need to see Phoebe do a duet of 'Smelly Cat' with Lady Gaga and then discuss how they're both champions of the weird and wonderful? Absolutely not.
Did it get properly emotional when they all discussed how much they love each other? 100%.
Was the special episode made any better by Justin Bieber appearing as the Holiday Armadillo? Not at all.
Friends: The Reunion was like a wedding anniversary party, but it is clear that this sit-com definitely needs some therapy sessions to probe a little deeper into its own history.
Of course, we don't expect Warner Bros. or HBO or the producers of the show to perform a self-autopsy.
Much like every show from the '90s, Friends is very much of its time, but has become more problematic in hindsight. As broken down brilliantly by this VOX article, you don't have to go very far into this show to discover some issues.
There is the question about the almost complete and total lack of people of colour: there isn't a major POC character in the show until Aisha Tyler starred as Charlie Wheeler in the ninth season.
There is the concerns around homophobia and transphobia: The show was progressive in showing Carol and Susan getting married, but oddly didn't show them kissing at the end of the ceremony, and the episode was filled with plenty of gay jokes.
And then there's Chandler's Dad, played by Kathleen Turner, who was referred to as a gay man, a drag queen, and cross-dresser. Years later, the show's writers confirmed the character was a trans woman, but throughout the entire series, we never even learn her real name.
These issues are very much of their time (and, in some cases, were raised at the time, with little to no reaction from the creators) and are no different to similar hindsight reactions to shows of that era. It is a testament to the show's ongoing popularity that it is still being analysed this way, unlike the many, MANY other sitcoms from the '90s that we have all decided to delete from our memory banks.
All clips via NOW
But surely the biggest revelation, all these years later, can't have been that Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer fancied each other in real life, too? Sure, it is a bit like finding out two of your friends have secretly been doing it behind your back ("My eyes! MY EYES!"), but two attractive people spending almost every day together, playing characters who are falling in love? Of course this was going to happen.
Aside from that though, you wouldn't think that anything really happened to these actors aside from doing a lot of magazine cover photoshoots and, occasionally, a helicopter might film their roofs.
Sure, they discuss how becoming famous only made them all closer friends, but these six actors went through as much media scrutiny as any other celebrity in recorded history, and you just have to look at the recent Britney Spears documentary to see the impact that can have on your own life.
Where was the talk of the Joey spin-off? Where was the reaction to Paul Rudd claiming he "felt like a prop" while he filming his scenes? The lawsuit by the writer's assistant against the show for sexual and racial harassment?
And where were the fights? There is no way they all got along without a single falling out!
We loved Friends for what it was, and we liked Friends: The Reunion for what it is, but we were already celebrating the show's greatness by rewatching our favourite episodes over and over again.
The last thing Friends needed was reminder of how great it was. What it really needed, and what we really wanted, was a proper peek behind the curtain. The Reunion was not that, and it seems unlikely we'll ever get it.
Friends: The Reunion is available to stream on NOW right now.