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The Bearable Lightness Of The Finality Of 'Friends'

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The Bearable Lightness Of The Finality Of 'Friends'

As international viewers fired up their HBO app to watch the long-anticipated Friends: The Reunion, there was a big problem. HBO’s back-end simply could not handle the sheer influx of traffic from overseas. As the once-in-two-decades event started, the streamer completely crashed.

The international glitch (US viewers didn't report any issues) spoke to one thing: we were all, across the world, once again watching appointment "must-see TV" and engaging in the monoculture in order to reminisce about one of the most ubiquitous sitcoms in history.

In many ways "The One Where They Get Back Together,” the special’s alternate title, felt more like a memorial than a joyful celebration. Perhaps the show’s patchwork structure caused what I perceived as an evident weariness in the six leads. Between a filmed table read, an interview with James Corden, being followed around for vérité footage, commenting on clip reels, competing in a trivia quiz to unveil guest stars, singing with Lady Gaga, and answering a fan Q&A, WarnerMedia definitely got their money’s worth out of the stars.

Which, side note: the six friends were reportedly paid at least $2.5 million each for their reunion appearance, according to Variety.

But beyond the wired exhaustion was the crisp air of finality hovering over the evening. Throughout the special, it was made explicitly clear that these two hours were the last we would get from the Friends extended universe.

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