The cast of Friends didn’t sit back when producers hit them with a surprising plot twist involving Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). Instead, the cast of the beloved sitcom voiced their discontent and, in doing so, arguably saved season 9 of the hit sitcom.
Join us as we delve into the story of the cast revolt and the controversial storyline that almost derailed one of TV’s most successful shows.
‘Friends’ cast saved Season 9 when they ‘Revolted’ over this storyline
The cast of Friends felt considerable unease when they encountered the narrative thread that entwined Joey and Rachel romantically. The actors were taken aback, as they found it hard to believe that Joey would compromise his friendship with Ross (David Schwimmer) in such a manner.
Friends producer, Kevin S. Bright, revealed to Us Magazine that the cast was outraged by the proposed plotline involving Joey and Rachel. Their discontent was so pronounced that they essentially rebelled after the initial script read-through.
“There was a creative fight when we first started the arc where Joey was going to get together with Rachel. The cast revolted when they read the first script on it. [They said], ‘No. Joey would never do this to Ross.”
However, despite the actors’ reservations, Bright noted that the show’s creators, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, clarified their intentions. They confirmed the plot wouldn’t tarnish Joey’s character by portraying him as a girlfriend stealer.
Still, the storyline nearly didn’t see the light of day due to the controversy. Despite the clear dissatisfaction from the cast, the producers decided to move forward with the contentious storyline.
Producers move forward with the controversial Joey and Rachel storyline anyway, knowing it would be brief
The makers of Friends knew right off the bat that a romantic liaison between Joey and Rachel might ruffle the feathers of their fan base. But this very aspect was indeed a key driver behind the decision to go ahead with it.
Crane admitted to Radio Times that they approved this potentially contentious storyline precisely due to its controversial nature. The Friends creator highlighted the fact that such dynamics often unfold in real life, whether folks approve or not.
Crane also candidly shared that, in contrast to Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler’s (Matthew Perry) love story, he expected the Joey-Rachel romance to have a brief run.
“Joey and Rachel, we always knew [it would end]. She was pregnant with Ross’s baby. We always knew this was like… that this was doomed but in a hopefully really interesting, moving, and compelling way.”
In the course of seasons 8 to 10, the camaraderie between Joey and Rachel evolved into a more intimate bond. However, once they realized they couldn’t get past kissing, they mutually agreed that staying pals was their best bet.
Even still, it will forever remain a somewhat contentious chapter in the Friends saga for its die-hard fans.
Other ‘Friends’ moments that the crew regrets putting on the air
The producers of Friends were more than pleased to incorporate the Joey-Rachel romance into the series. There were, however, certain plot points they came to regret as time passed.
For instance, Bright did not particularly like the episode in season 9 where Monica mistakenly thinks Chandler derives pleasure from watching sharks mate. Bright expressed that he felt such an episode was more aligned with the tone of a show like Seinfeld rather than Friends.
Bright didn’t further elaborate, however, implying it had something to do with a sensitive period in Matthew Perry’s life. Perry, who portrayed Chandler, faced numerous health challenges during the series’ run from 1994 to 2004.
Crane, meanwhile, expressed his own reservations about a different plot point. The Friends creator revealed that he regrets how the series approached Carol and Susan’s wedding.
“I was happy that Carol and Susan got married, but my only wish looking back is that we had told that story more from their point of view,” he stated.
Friends fans were treated to a nostalgic experience when HBO released Friends: The Reunion earlier this year.