The Friends reunion is almost here.

Warner Media/HBO Max

They’ll be there for you … even though it’s been 25 years since they were there for you the last time. Those famous NBC Friends — Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross — are coming back, in a special called Friends: The Reunion and also dubbed The One Where They Get Back Together. It airs May 27 on HBO Max, and here’s what you need to know.

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How and when to watch

Friends: The Reunion will air on May 27 on HBO Max. Following a brief teaser showing the backs of the actors walking on the Burbank set where the show and reunion were filmed, a new trailer dropped Wednesday. In it, the cast shares lots of laughs, memories and tears.  

HBO Max doesn’t have a free trial, so you’ll either need to sign up with a paying membership (currently $15 a month) or upgrade an existing HBO subscription to include Max. 

You might already have access to HBO Max and not even know it. If you currently subscribe to HBO via your cable or satellite provider, you can probably get HBO Max without paying anything extra. We explain it in detail here, but essentially, you’ll need to watch on a smart TV or streaming device — or a Comcast Xfinity box — using the HBO Max app and your home internet connection. 

Also, after months of delay, Roku finally gave its streaming devices and TVs access to HBO Max. You can find more information here.

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What we know about the reunion

Most of the plans for the show are still secret, but don’t expect a scripted reunion between the characters. This is a special where the actors appear as themselves, presumably to share memories and reminisce. 

“There’s nothing scripted, we’re not in character,” actor David Schwimmer said in April on The Graham Norton Show. “We’re all ourselves, the real people.”

And then he hinted at… something. “But there is one section, I don’t want to give away … where we all read something.”

Not quite sure what that means. Are they reading something in character, perhaps a quick scene summing up where the characters might be today? We’ll see.

The show was filmed at the same Warner Bros. stage in Burbank where Friends filmed since its second season, in front of a live audience.

Where did we leave the Friends?

The show began in 1994 and ran for 10 seasons on NBC. The main six characters stay friends and some become romantic partners as the show progresses. They live in New York City and hang out at a coffee shop called Central Perk.

Rachel Green, played by Jennifer Aniston, begins the series by fleeing her wedding to a man she doesn’t love, and instead moves in with her high school best friend, Monica Geller. She works at Central Perk before moving into a fashion career. She eventually falls in and out and in and out of love with Monica’s brother, Ross, and the two have a daughter, Emma.

Chef Monica Geller, played by Courteney Cox, known for her cleanliness and competitiveness, lets Rachel move in with her in her way-too-spacious-for-New-York apartment. Chandler Bing and Joey Tribbiani live across the hall and are friends of hers. Eventually Monica and Chandler fall in love, marry, adopt boy-girl twins, and leave New York City for the suburbs.

Paleontologist Ross Geller, Monica’s older brother, played by David Schwimmer, is a nerdy but smart goofball. He begins the show newly single, as his wife, Carol, has discovered she is a lesbian. He has a son with Carol, but most of his romantic relationships in the series involve his sister’s best friend, Rachel. Eventually, the will-they, won’t-they Ross and Rachel have a daughter, Emma. For a while, Ross owned a white-headed capuchin monkey named Marcel.

Chandler Bing, played by Matthew Perry, works in a variety of (sometimes mysterious) corporate jobs during the show’s run. He mostly rooms with best friend Joey Tribbiani. Monica’s brother, Ross, is Chandler’s college roommate. Eventually, Chandler and Monica fall for each other and end up married with twins. Before Monica, he had a memorable girlfriend named Janice Hosenstein. Could her laugh BE any more annoying?

Actor Joey Tribbiani, played by Matt LeBlanc, is often portrayed as the adult child of the group. In between acting roles, he does everything from work at the Friends’ hangout of Central Perk to playing Santa Claus at Christmas. He loves eating and is a ladies’ man, and dates Rachel for a while, eventually realizing they are better as friends. When the series ends, Joey leaves New York for L.A. to pursue acting, and LeBlanc starred in the Friends spinoff show Joey for two seasons.

Masseuse Phoebe Buffay, played by Lisa Kudrow, is portrayed as dizzy and quirky, and had a tougher childhood than the others. Her mother killed herself when Phoebe was young, and Phoebe ended up living on the streets. She has a twin sister, Ursula, is a vegetarian, and sings songs she wrote herself, most infamously, Smelly Cat. When the show ends, she has married her boyfriend Mike (Paul Rudd), with pal Joey officiating the wedding.

Guest star bonanza

Friends had a number of famous guest stars during its 10-year run, and the reunion is no exception. Guest stars appearing on the reunion include David Beckham, Justin Bieber, BTS, James Corden, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne, Lady Gaga, Elliott Gould, Kit Harington, Larry Hankin, Mindy Kaling, Thomas Lennon, Christina Pickles, Tom Selleck, James Michael Tyler, Maggie Wheeler, Reese Witherspoon and Malala Yousafzai.

The director of the Friends reunion, Ben Winston, warned that the appearance by Korean hit band BTS is brief. 

“I want to manage your expectations on this — it’s a really short moment from BTS,” he tweeted. “They are great of course, but they are one of the interviews, talking briefly about why they like Friends.”

I want to manage your expectations on this – it’s a really short moment from BTS. They are great of course, but they are one of the interviews, talking briefly about why they like friends.

— Ben Winston (@benwinston)
May 14, 2021

It seems likely that all the guest-star moments will be brief, as it’s the main six actors that fans want to see. Maybe we’ll find out what happens after they stopped being stuck in second gear, as the theme song memorably blared.

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