According to a former writer, the cast of Friends didn’t always have their cheerful demeanor while filming the show!
Patty Lin, who wrote for the iconic ’90s sitcom during season 7 from 2000 to 2001, is spilling ALL THE TEA about what life was like on set. Amid the SAG-AFTRA strike that’s been going on for some time now, the 43-year-old former writer shared an excerpt from her upcoming book End Credits: How I Broke Up with Hollywood with Time on Wednesday — and she’s coming for all the shows we know and love!
In the excerpt, she said:
“Ever since I retired from television writing at the ripe age of 38, people have asked me: “Why would you quit such a cool career?” Especially if they know I worked on popular shows like Friends, Freaks and Geeks, Desperate Housewives, and Breaking Bad. It’s impossible to answer this question over the course of a cocktail party conversation. Where would I even begin? There were the grueling hours, the egotistical bosses, the politics and dysfunction, the ways in which TV writing is more like making widgets than creating art—there’s everything that the Writers Guild of America is currently fighting against with their ongoing strike, and the issues have only gotten more complex since I retired in 2008.”
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Later in her book, she recalls how excited she was to get an offer to work on Friends, which was the most popular sitcom in the country at the time. Working alongside Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer seemed like a dream at the time — but soon the dream turned into a nightmare:
“But the novelty of seeing Big Stars up close wore off fast … 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.”
Patty went on to claim the cast members would even mess up the jokes on purpose to get the ones they didn’t like rewritten:
“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.”
The entertainment industry figure said the actors would often “vociferously” give their opinions to the writers and felt protective over the characters they played:
“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.”
She said these meetings were only helpful “sometimes”, but often just sent the writers of the show back to square one multiple times. And something that made her even more uncomfortable on set was the alleged cliquey nature of the cast:
“They reminded me of the preppy rich kids in my high school who shopped at Abercrombie & Fitch and drove brand-new convertibles. The welcome lunch was only the beginning. During pre-production the staff went out to lunch every day, and the stress of figuring out who to sit with stirred up troubling memories of the middle school cafeteria.”
And that’s not even to mention her claims of sexual harassment and racial injustice that would not fly today. She alleges the crew would speak about sexual encounters during their downtime:
“I was proud of my ability to laugh at obscenities and not take offense. In comedy, this toughness—or, put another way, lack of sensitivity—was considered a requirement. But given how much has shifted in the last few years around sexual harassment and racial injustice, I’d probably feel differently if I were sitting in a writers’ room today.”
All in all, Patty called the 23 episodes the produced that season completely “brutal” behind-the-scenes. Wow.
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[Image via Jennifer Aniston/Instagram/Friends/CNN/YouTube]