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“Rarely Had Anything Positive To Say”: Former Friends Writer Recalls Cast’s Intense Feedback Sessions-TGN

Summary

  • Writer Patty Lin reveals the difficulties she faced while working on the immensely popular sitcom Friends, with the actors supposedly unhappy with the scripts and constantly wondering how they would serve them.
  • Lin explains that the actors would deliberately tank jokes they didn’t like, causing good jokes to be thrown out, and that the script discussions had a dire and aggressive quality.
  • Friends ended after its tenth season due to various reasons, including the creators feeling it was the right time to wrap up the show and some cast members no longer being interested. The show’s production costs and personal issues also played a role.


Friends writer Patty Lin reveals her struggles writing for one of, if not the most popular sitcom ever. Premiering in 2004, the New York-set comedy following the lives of a group of friends made Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer household names. The show has been off the air for almost two decades, but it remains at the forefront of pop culture thanks to its availability on streaming platforms. Working on Friends would seem like a dream for many, but the reality was different for Lin.

In her new book, End Credits: How I Broke Up With Hollywood (via Time), Lin recalls her time writing for Friends in 2000. By then, the show was already immensely popular, and joining its writer room appeared to be a privilege. However, the experience wasn’t exactly enjoyable for Lin, who reveals in her memoir some of the difficulties she encountered on the job. Read the related excerpt from her book below:

But the novelty of seeing Big Stars up close wore off fast, along with my zeal about breakfast. The actors seemed unhappy to be chained to a tired old show when they could be branching out, and I felt like they were constantly wondering how every given script would specifically serve them. They all knew how to get a laugh, but if they didn’t like a joke, they seemed to deliberately tank it, knowing we’d rewrite it. Dozens of good jokes would get thrown out just because one of them had mumbled the line through a mouthful of bacon. David and Marta never said, “This joke is funny. The actor just needs to sell it.”

Once the first rewrite was finished, we’d have a run-through on the set, where the actors would rehearse and work out blocking with the director. Then everyone would sit around Monica and Chandler’s apartment and discuss the script. This was the actors’ first opportunity to voice their opinions, which they did vociferously. They rarely had anything positive to say, and when they brought up problems, they didn’t suggest feasible solutions. Seeing themselves as guardians of their characters, they often argued that they would never do or say such-and-such. That was occasionally helpful, but overall, these sessions had a dire, aggressive quality that lacked all the levity you’d expect from the making of a sitcom.


Why Friends Ended After Season 10

Based on Lin’s timeline, she worked on the show during its seventh season. The whole year, Friends was working towards Monica and Chandler’s wedding, which eventually became its season finale. Lin functioned as the executive story editor for all 24 episodes of season 7 but didn’t return for season 8. Just three years after that, Friends would end with season 10 because of a variety of reasons. While creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman have claimed that they felt like it was the right time to wrap up the show, some cast members were also reportedly no longer interested in doing it beyond that point.

Aniston, in particular, admitted that she had a difficult time getting through the final 18 episodes of Friends because she was dealing with some personal issues. Meanwhile, Lisa Kudrow subsequently revealed that some of the actors were simply ready to move on from the show, while others were keen on continuing the project, especially considering how popular it still was at that time. For context, Friends‘ production costs were also becoming an issue, with all six cast members earning a whopping $1 million per episode.

Related: Friends Cast: Where The Actors Are Now

It is arguably for the best that Friends ended when it did. If ABC forced the series to move forward with an incomplete cast, it would only risk tarnishing the legacy of the show. At the very least, Kauffman and Crane were able to craft a proper send-off for the Central Perk gang.

Source: End Credits: How I Broke Up With Hollywood (via Time)

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