No one told us it was gonna be this way!
That is, the opening credits of the "Friends" reunion, which dropped on HBO Max at 3 a.m. ET Thursday, keeping loyal fans up into some very wee hours.
And one of the first things anyone noticed about the reunion was this: The opening credits scene was both all new, and totally familiar!
One fan posted it on Twitter:
The first few seconds were actually the original opening sequence: the gang (Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry) gathered around the Central Perk couch, which itself was in front of the fountain.
But abruptly things cut away to the actors, now 27 years older than when it began, in shots from the reunion: getting comfy in recliners, laughing at one another, gesticulating wildly, taking group selfies, and lots of laughing. And both the original and this updated version finish with the first season's ending: the gang flexing their muscles, soaked in the fountain, and sitting in the couch, watching the dancing waters.
On top of all that, the Rembrandts' "I'll Be There For You," the song that provided the theme for the beloved sitcom's full 10 seasons, was back, too. It's a joyous, bouncy, fast-paced montage that reminds us all over again just how much fun the show could be.
Still, knowing that 27 years have passed since that opening sequence first aired, then seeing the middle-aged actors gathered again, lines like "No one told you life was gonna be this way" take on a new resonance. The good news: So do lines like "I'll be there for you," which the cast clearly has been over the years.
Creating the opening sequence back in 1994 was something of an ad-lib, as Kelsey Miller wrote in her book about the show, "I'll Be There For You: The One About 'Friends,'" which came out in 2018 and was excerpted in Refinery29. The original plan to shoot the cast on a rooftop with a backdrop that was in Los Angeles but could pass for New York, had to be scrapped since it was cold and windy.
The Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank, however, had a small park in the middle of the lot with a fountain built in the 1930s. It took hours to shoot, by the end of which everyone was wet and freezing ("Everyone had pruny fingers," LeBlanc said in the book) but everyone was up for jumping into the fountain anyhow. It turned into a bonding experience, and those quick bursts of laughter at the end of the sequence were genuine.
"You’ve got six people in a fountain at four in the morning who are about to embark on a journey," Perry is quoted as saying in the book, from press during the final season. "And they just have no idea what is in store for them — other than it's going to be fun, and maybe it will work."