“How *you* getting on?” Why Matt LeBlanc wins Friends: The ReunionWatch it now
He might look more like someone’s uncle than someone’s boyfriend but Matt Le Blanc is as loveable as ever.
Ladies and gentlemen, can we have an OMG? (And all the tissues!) It’s Friends: The Reunion! Also known as The One Where They Get Back Together, the almost two-hour TV special just started streaming on Showmax.
Now in their 50s, Courteney Cox (Monica), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler), and David Schwimmer (Ross) bring us all the feels as they return to the iconic comedy’s original soundstage for a real-life unscripted celebration of the beloved show, including a line-up of guest stars and celebrities from host James Corden to Reese Witherspoon, David Beckham to Justin Bieber.
Friends has an 8.4/10 score on IMDb where, surprise!, it’s at #2 on the Most Popular TV list, and still at #53, IMDb Top Rated TV of all time, 17 years after the finale aired in 2004. The series won 77 awards over the course of its 10-season run, including six Emmys.
As adorable as ever
“How you doing?”, Joey’s catchphrase/pick-up line, has become part of the English language the world over, and it’s the question the Friends stars are here to answer in Friends: The Reunion. And somewhere in between the laughter, the tears, and the revelations of the cast’s long-awaited catch-up, Joey Tribbiani just became the world’s favourite uncle – or at least Ireland’s favourite – and “won” Friends: The Reunion.
“The rest of the world should know that for the last 24 hours Irish Twitter has become OBSESSSED with how much Matt LeBlanc looks like everyone’s uncle/cousin,” Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain tweeted, as the meme-verse went into overdrive, and one user, @peterjmcgann, nailed it with the tweet, “How *you* getting on?”
“If someone were to ‘win’ the Friends reunion,” wrote Glamour, “it would be Matt LeBlanc. He not only remembered pretty much every episode and moment but also, it seemed, got the biggest kick out of revisiting Joey.”
Naive and not too quick on the uptake, Joey was a “ladies’ man” and a jokester. That he was often also the punchline is a “moo” point. As Joey once explained, “It’s like a cow’s opinion. It just doesn’t matter. It’s moo.” Because Joey was also all heart – charming, empathetic, easy to be around and always “there for you”.
One of the highlights of The Reunion is a quiet moment where Matt and Matthew Perry are ensconced in their old BarcaLoungers (remember Joey’s favourite chair, Rosita? Remember his precious TV, Stevie?), and Matthew says, “Aw, Matty, it’s good to see you, buddy.” We know how he feels.
Matt has come armed with all the goodies – the story of an almost broken nose, the tale of a dislocated shoulder, and the one about a badly timed bender. In the The Reunion, Matt reveals the poor decision that ended up landing him the part of Joey, reprises a show-stopper costume with the line, “Could I BE wearing any more clothes?”, and delivers a mic drop “Bullsh*t” to one bi-i-ig confession.
“It’s funny, when we do get together, it’s like no time has passed,” Matt told People Magazine. “We pick up right where we left off.”
On where his character would be today, Matt says Joey “would have opened a chain of sandwich shops.” “…and eaten all the sandwiches,” Matthew Perry quips. For his part, David says Ross “would’ve invested in Joey’s sandwich shop and lost a lot of his savings for his kids [with Rachel, obviously].” “Dinosaur-themed sandwich shop!” Matt chimes. “Bronto-burger!”
In real life, Matt’s been far too busy to open any sandwich shops (though we would totally live there if he did). Unlike his co-stars, many of whom worked hard to break the stereotypes of their iconic Friends characters, Matt learned – with a few bumps along the way – to cleverly leverage the heck out of the series that had thus far defined his career, and proved himself the consummate entertainer along the way.
After Friends ended, Matt threw himself into the two-season Golden Globe-nominated spin-off series, Joey, which saw his character move to Hollywood to pursue his acting career. But when the show was cancelled, he crashed. “For years and years, I barely left the house,” he said in an interview with The Mirror. “I was burnt out. I wanted to not have a schedule, not be somewhere. I was in a position to do that. My agent was bummed. Most actors call their agents and say, ‘What’s going on?’. I’d call mine and say, ‘Please lose my number for a few years’. It was a very dark time. I almost had a nervous breakdown.”
Luckily for us, he got his mojo back in 2011. Sticking with the Matt-goes-to-Hollywood theme, the actor took on the hilariously meta five-season comedy series Episodes (co-created by Friends co-creator David Crane), which earned him a Golden Globe for playing… himself, and gifted us a mini-reunion when David Schwimmer popped in to play himself in one episode.
Matt also guested in five episodes of Lisa Kudrow’s comedy series Web Therapy, where he played gambling addict Nick Jericho.
In 2016, Matt took the plunge and dispensed with the characters altogether, joining the ever-popular British docuseries Top Gear as a co-host (and sometime adrenaline junkie) for three years.
The acting bug has a way of biting back though, and in 2016, Matt signed on to a role that would be his biggest departure yet, to play old school dad Adam Burns in the sitcom Man with a Plan, which he also executive produced. The series ended in 2020, having won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Comedy in 2017.
Over the course of his almost 35-year career, Matt has been nominated for seven Emmys (three for Friends and four for Episodes) and five Golden Globes, winning Best Actor for Episodes.
Along the way, he also married and became a father. Matt met British-born American model Melissa McKnight in 1997, and the pair married in 2003. Their daughter, Marina, was born a year later. Although Marina suffered seizures, thought to be a form of dysplasia, as an infant, the condition subsided by the time she was two. Matt and Melissa stayed together until 2006, when they divorced, citing irreconcilable differences.
In an interview with former NBC president Warren Littlefield on shooting the final episodes of Friends, Matt said, “…We were so aware that our time together was coming to an end. ‘Yes, I’ll talk to you. Yes, I’ll always know you, but I won’t know you like this. I won’t see you every day, all day… To have this awesome, awesome experience every week. It’s coming to an end.’ So in those final two weeks, we would steal away these little moments. ‘Hey, let’s go hang out. Let’s go sit in my room.’ It was really … a lot of Kleenex. There’s only five people in the world who know exactly what being on Friends was like, other than me. There’s five of them. David, Matthew, Lisa, Courteney, and Jen. That’s it.”
And that’s what we get to see on The Reunion, six friends, who shared a once-in-a-lifetime experience, with us. After all, they were our friends too.
Much as we would love to hear Ross announce on Friends: The Reunion, “We were [just] on a break!”, the series’ creators have repeatedly denied rumours of a Friends reboot, so the special is as close as we’re getting to a comeback.
Not that the actors, or the studio, will suffer financially if the show is never rebooted. Warner Bros reportedly still earns around $1bn a year from syndication of the evergreen show, according to USA Today. Even with the six main cast members earning just two percent of that, their annual income from reruns reportedly comes to $20m each…