The recent FRIENDS reunion spilled a lot of secrets about the show and its cast members. Courteney Cox wrote her lines on Monica’s table, Jennifer Anniston and David Schwimmer had crushes on each other, while Matt Le Blanc broke his arm and had to reshoot scenes. But, the cast never gave away any production secrets from the FRIENDS Sets.
Directors and set designers have revealed a number of surprising facts over the years about how the show was made. From casting decisions to the reasons for particular furniture choices, they’ve also shared with fans how storylines were developed. And there always remains a number of production secrets linked to the show which the audience doesn’t know, even though it was shot in front of a live studio audience for 10 years. One surprising fact that we don’t know is that the live audience was once given a surprise of free pizza whilst watching the taping.
So, here are some of the juicy facts about FRIENDS sets and some props that you might not be aware of:
1) The Troll Doll Existed Even Before The Geller Cup Plot
The Geller Cup storyline is easily one of the best Thanksgiving episodes and an iconic episode in itself. However, contrary to what we previously believed, the storyline was actually created around the cup. The troll doll stuck on the wooden block was shown to the writers by a member of the prop team. They took the idea and created the Geller Cup around it.
2) No Street Set Outside For The First Season
For the first season, there was no actual street set outside Central Perk due to budgetary reasons. They used a painted backdrop instead. The window in front of it was intentionally tinted. Also, to hide the fact that the backdrop was fake, they also used a number of potted plants. However, the set was added and the window was made clear in the second season.
3) The Artwork Changed Every Few Weeks In Central Perk
Even though Central Perk is in nearly every episode of FRIENDS, we were unable to spot for ourselves that the artwork in the coffee shop actually changed every few episodes. As per Greg Grande, the set designer, they would change the back wall artwork frequently to a new artist from around the world.
4) Central Perk’s Location Was Never Revealed
Since some of them referred to it as “downstairs”, many fans assumed the Central Perk was on the first floor of their apartment building. However, exterior shots of the front of their building show that a restaurant with red awnings has taken up that place. If you remember, Joey once mentioned that the coffee shop was exactly 97 steps away from their apartment. Interestingly, no one knows exactly where Central Perk is located on their block.
5) Monica’s Door Frame Was A Mistake
Interestingly, the iconic yellow door frame around Monica’s peephole on the purple door was actually a mistake. Initially, it was just a frame that had its glass broken. And, Greg suggested putting it around the peephole which just worked right. He liked the way it ended up and believes that it was surely a beautiful mistake.
6) Gladys Wasn’t Actually Made For The Show
Do you remember the terrifying work of art that Gladys was? If you don’t know, Phoebe’s creepy artwork already existed way before the show. Greg found the piece of art and believed that it would be great for Phoebe’s apartment. Well, for a character like Phoebe’s, it couldn’t be any more appropriate. So it wasn’t created keeping in mind the character of Phoebe but was found and used later.
7) The Poster Behind Monica’s TV Wasn’t An Aesthetic Choice
There was a time during the FRIENDS run when everyone was obsessed with the poster behind Monica’s TV. Although it wasn’t chosen purely for its design aesthetic, though it looked great in the apartment. In fact, the poster was used to hide a hole in the wall at Monica’s place.
8) Boy’s Recliners Were Used To Give A Bachelor-Pad Vibe
Joey Tribbiani and Chandler Bing favored an unapologetically bachelor-pad vibe with their hulking leather recliners. The set designer, Mr. Grande admitted, “I looked for the most obnoxious ones I could find.” And, he continued, “Those chairs were about one thing: comfort and where to put your beer.”
9) Hugsy Was Added Just To Have Some Fun With Joey
Hugsy was originally mentioned accidentally by Joey as his “bedtime penguin pal” in the episode “The One Where Everybody Finds Out”. It is at that moment that he tells Rachel how he stole Hugsy from a child, and also swallowed his button years back. Later, we noticed it in several other episodes. And it was a fun addition done by Mr. Grande.
10) The Writing On the Magna Doodle Changed
The writing on Magna doodle at Chandler and Joey’s apartment kept changing across the cuts. At first, when Joey was complaining about staying up all night before a sleep clinic, “Get Out” was written on it. However, it changed to “Poop” when Chandler talked about how he cannot dance at weddings and Ross walked in while Chandler was showing Rachel and Joey how he danced. Perhaps it changed to reflect what politeness forbids them telling Ross. In fact, the next time you watch FRIENDS and come across Chandler’s apartment door, try to pause and see the writing on the doodle. You will always be delighted with something new.
11) Monica, Chandler, Rachel, And Joey’s Apartment Was In Greenwich Village
Their apartment was the foundation and true soul of the show. The true fans of the show know this as a place called home. Purple wall, blue kitchen cabinets, round kitchen table with mismatched pair of chairs, and Chandler and Joey’s apartment just across the hall. However, the interior existed just on set, you can visit the exterior of Monica’s apartment which is at 90 Bedford Street, at the corner of Grove Street in Greenwich Village.
12) Iconic Orange Couch Was The Collection Of Burbank’s Warner Bros. Studios
This early-1900s tufted-mohair sofa with burnt-orange color salvaged from a collection of Burbank’s Warner Bros. Studios. Mr. Shaffner noted that the sofa’s design encouraged a comfortable and home-away-from-home posture. Mr. Grande said. “We went with repurposed, old-school pieces and a palette of rich earth tones.” It was the go-to haunt that had to be cozy for the gang but different from the apartment sets.
13) Pat The Dog Was Used To Giving An Italian Touch To The Setting
For Joey, success looks like this molded-plastic greyhound statue. Referencing the character’s heritage, Mr. Grande said, “The only note I got was ‘Give it a little Italian flair.’ I went to a store called Italy 2000 and saw this dog. It had a seventies flavor and was too funny.” Undoubtedly, the piece took on a life of its own.
14) The Boys’ Laurel and Hardy Poster In Their Apartment
Chandler Bing and Joey Tribbianni’s brown-and-beige lair was intentionally left under-decorated. Mr. Grande said. “We wanted it to look a little barren and like they didn’t really care. Still, we had to fill the walls with something.” This black-and-white poster of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, entertainers of early-20th-century unframed and haphazardly taped up that fit the set perfectly. Mr. Shaffner said, “Part of Joey and Chandler’s charm was that, in their own way, they were a couple.”
15) Phoebe’s Apartment In The Show
Do you remember the episode titled “The One With Joey’s New Brain”? In this episode, Rachel and Phoebe find someone’s phone at Central perk. She then asks that person to pick it up from her apartment and she tells the stranger over the phone it’s at 5 Morton Street. Reportedly, it’s only a four-minute walk from where Monica, Rachel, Joey, and Chandler lived.
16) The Pulitzer Fountain Was Not An Actual Fountain
This is the famous fountain where all the six characters danced around during the opening of each episode of the show. It is the most iconic symbol of the show. However, it was just a prop on the set and not the actual fountain in New York. Reportedly, the inspiration behind the fountain was from The Pulitzer Fountain in Midtown West’s Grand Army Plaza and many FRIENDS fan visits there.
17) Rachel’s Dirty Book Was Added To Spice Things Up
The ‘dirty book’ Joey finds in Rachel’s bedroom seems to be a prop rather than a genuine book in FREINDS. And, Rachel’s love for adult literature was previously referenced in “The One With Mrs. Bing”. So, to spice that up Rachel’s dirty books were added to the show. Rachel comes in for a lot of clowning from Joey when he discovers that she had an erotic book.
18) The Apothecary Table Was Offset The High Cost Of Production
Rachel was trying to pass off a Pottery Barn table to Phoebe as an antique. The fib flew and thanks to the item’s apothecary drawers, brass hardware, and mahogany finish until Phoebe discovered Ross Geller owned the very same one. Peter Roth of Warner Bros. said it “offset the high cost of production” when asked about the product placement in the episode. The table was even purchased by the fans in droves that Pottery Barn reissued.