'Friends' creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane look back at the finale -- and why they won't do a reunion show

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As we approach the 20th anniversary of the show’s launch and 10th anniversary of the finale, people wonder if there’s  been any softening in your opposition to a reunion, and maybe a thought has popped into your head about doing a one-off —
[Laughs] Honestly, I have to go back to: The show is over. What was at the heart of the show is done. And let’s be honest, it’s 20 years later. Nobody looks like they did then. And you’re going to spend the whole time going, “Wow, he’s aged. Or she’s…”

CRANE: If anyone wants Friends, turn on your TV! Amazingly, thank God, it’s there. And these are all great actors that you’re seeing all the time in other things. Marta and I’ve talked about this a lot: People say they want it, and the more that we say it’s a bad idea, people [disagree]. But I think if we actually gave it to people, there would be such backlash.

KAUFFMAN: This is about finales. It’s final.

But do you hear from NBC and Warner Bros. occasionally? Is this like a parole thing, where every 18 months they revisit it?
[Laughs] That’s exactly what it is. … From both them and Warner Bros, there has been the periodic, “So what do you guys think?”

And you keep saying…?
We don’t think it’s a very good idea. It’s like, we all worked hard to put the perfect bow on this. What are you doing?

KAUFFMAN: I was sitting in a bar one night with a friend — I don’t do that a lot, but we were going out before a premiere of something — and a bunch of 20-year-olds walked in and they just heard “It’s definite! Friends is coming back for another season!” And I’m sitting right there thinking, “Do I say something?”

CRANE: But be honest: Was there a little bit a part of you that goes, “Did they just not call me?”

KAUFFMAN: [Laughs] No, I was pretty sure it wasn’t.

CRANE: Really? Whenever I read something where it’s absolutely definitively happening, there’s a teeny part of my brain that goes, “Did they decide just to stop even bothering to ask us because they know we’re going to say no, so f— us?

KAUFFMAN: Could be. You could be right.

David, you’re working on Episodes, and Marta, you just signed a deal with Netflix for a comedy.
I have big plans for the finale. [Laughs]

What lessons will you pull away from the Friends finale experience that you’ll apply to your new show?
I guess the lesson I learned is: Let the show tell me. There comes a point where you’re no longer in the driver’s seat in a way, and your job is to strip away all the crap and get to what’s at the root of the last story and not to impose too much story on it.

CRANE: The essence of the show leads you to an organic conclusion. Friends started as the time in your life when your friends are your family, so what’s at the heart of the episode is six friends going off in different directions. And that feels very organic to where it started. … Jeffrey and I haven’t started looking at what’s going to be the finale of Episodes, but hopefully it would somehow speak to where the show started, in the same way.

KAUFFMAN: We were very lucky. We had a show in which the last episode could be the six people who were each other’s lives saying goodbye as the audience was saying goodbye to the show. It was kind of perfect. It gave it right to us.

For more on TV finales, pick up the April 11 issue of Entertainment Weekly.


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