2019 marks 25 years since Friends began, and also 15 years since it ended… and we’re sorry to tell you, but it doesn’t sound like it’s coming back any time soon.
Series co-creator David Crane told RadioTimes.com just last year that, as far as he and fellow writer Marta Kauffman are concerned, the hit sitcom will never be revived or rebooted.
“It’s done, it’s done,” Crane insisted. “We put a bow on it, it’s done. We had 10 great years. God knows, if you want to see Friends, it’s on television…
“I think it’s giving into a notion of what people think they want, but if you give people what they want, how can it not be ultimately be disappointing?”
They’re not alone: Matt LeBlanc (Joey) suggested back in 2012 that any sort of Friends reunion would be a “bad idea”, Matthew Perry (Chandler) has said he wouldn’t want to “risk doing something bad” and “tarnishing the [show’s] image” and Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe) went so far as to suggest that a Friends movie featuring the cast in their 40s and 50s would just be plain “sad”.
So… no grand reopening of Central Perk on the cards any time soon.
But in fact, it’s very possible that one Friends character could be returning to television very soon… just not on Friends.
Confused? Well, it all stems from the fact that, before she got the Friends gig, Lisa Kudrow was cast on the NBC sitcom Mad About You as a ditzy waitress named Ursula, who worked in New York City restaurant Riff’s.
When Kudrow later landed the series regular role of Phoebe Buffay on Friends, producers decided to have a bit of fun and have Ursula cross over onto her new show, revealing the character to be Phoebe’s identical twin sister. (Yes, Ursula actually appeared on television a whole year before Phoebe.)
Friends – Phoebe and Ursula NBC
Kudrow continued pulling double duty throughout the ’90s, appearing on Friends while also guesting on Mad About You as Ursula until that show wrapped in 1999. In fact, Ursula appeared in more episodes of Mad About You – 23 – than she did episodes of Friends – just eight.
One episode of Friends, season one’s ‘The One With Two Parts, Part 1’, actually saw two more Mad About You characters, Jamie Buchman (Helen Hunt) and Fran Devanow (Leila Kenzle), visit Central Perk and mistake Phoebe for her twin.
Now here’s where things get interesting… while Friends definitely isn’t coming back, Mad About You certainly is. The sitcom, which charted the highs and lows of the marriage between Hunt’s character and Paul Reiser’s Paul Buchman, ended 20 years ago on NBC but is being revived by US cable TV outlet Spectrum.
The first six episodes of the revival will premiere on 20th November, 2019, and another six episodes will be released a little less than a month later, on 18th December.
Ursula with Jamie and Paul in a 1997 episode of Mad About You NBC/Getty Images
Kudrow’s not officially signed up to return, but executive producer Peter Tolan told Variety that he’s keen to have Ursula be a part of the revival, which is still filming.
The writers on the show have even given some thought to where Ursula would be in 2019, following a reveal in the Mad About You finale – which jumped, funnily enough, two decades into the future – that she would rather surprisingly end up as Governor of New York.
“Ursula was actually working for the Trump White House,” Tolan said of the prospective plot. “[Jamie and Paul] were watching a White House press conference, and she’s in the back row, and that makes perfect sense, of course.”
So there you have it. We might have seen the last of Phoebe and her other Friends, but it’s very possible that her ‘evil twin’ could be resurfacing very soon indeed.