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Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era

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A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Friends, published for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the show’s premiere, including brand-new interviews with the series creators In September 1994, six friends sat down in their favorite coffee shop and began bantering. A quarter of a century later, new fans are still finding their way into the lives of Rachel, Ross, Jo A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Friends, published for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the show’s premiere, including brand-new interviews with the series creators In September 1994, six friends sat down in their favorite coffee shop and began bantering. A quarter of a century later, new fans are still finding their way into the lives of Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Monica, and Phoebe, and thanks to a combination of talented creators, its intimate understanding of its youthful audience, and its reign during network television’s last moment of dominance, Friends has become the most influential and beloved show of its era. Noted pop culture historian Saul Austerlitz is here to tell us how it happened. Utilizing exclusive interviews with creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, executive producer Kevin Bright, director James Burrows, and many other producers, writers, and cast members, Generation Friends tells the story of Friends’ creation, its remarkable decade-long run, and its astonishing Netflix-fueled afterlife. Readers will learn how the show was developed and cast, written and filmed. They’ll be reminded of episodes like the one about the trivia contest, the prom video, and the London trip. And, of course, the saga of Ross and Rachel. They’ll also discover surprising details—that Monica and Joey were the show’s original romantic couple, how Danielle Steel probably saved Jennifer Aniston’s career, and why Friends is still so popular that if it was a new show, its over-the-air broadcast reruns would be the ninth-highest-rated program on TV. The show that defined the 1990s remains wildly popular today and has a legacy that has endured beyond wildest expectations. And in this hilarious, informative, and entertaining book, readers will now understand why. “A treat for Friends fans, from OG Must See TV viewers to the new generation of streamers, full of insights into what made a quintessential ’90s phenomenon into a lasting, international classic for the ages. You’ll get your share of juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits, from vicious writers’-room debates about Rachel and Joey’s romance to the time the producers almost moved the setting to Minneapolis (seriously). But you’ll also get a hit of nostalgia for a time when an entire nation hung on the fate of Ross and Rachel, and plenty of smart analysis of why Friends was the right show at the right time … and also continues to be the right show at an entirely different time.” —Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia


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A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Friends, published for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the show’s premiere, including brand-new interviews with the series creators In September 1994, six friends sat down in their favorite coffee shop and began bantering. A quarter of a century later, new fans are still finding their way into the lives of Rachel, Ross, Jo A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Friends, published for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the show’s premiere, including brand-new interviews with the series creators In September 1994, six friends sat down in their favorite coffee shop and began bantering. A quarter of a century later, new fans are still finding their way into the lives of Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Monica, and Phoebe, and thanks to a combination of talented creators, its intimate understanding of its youthful audience, and its reign during network television’s last moment of dominance, Friends has become the most influential and beloved show of its era. Noted pop culture historian Saul Austerlitz is here to tell us how it happened. Utilizing exclusive interviews with creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, executive producer Kevin Bright, director James Burrows, and many other producers, writers, and cast members, Generation Friends tells the story of Friends’ creation, its remarkable decade-long run, and its astonishing Netflix-fueled afterlife. Readers will learn how the show was developed and cast, written and filmed. They’ll be reminded of episodes like the one about the trivia contest, the prom video, and the London trip. And, of course, the saga of Ross and Rachel. They’ll also discover surprising details—that Monica and Joey were the show’s original romantic couple, how Danielle Steel probably saved Jennifer Aniston’s career, and why Friends is still so popular that if it was a new show, its over-the-air broadcast reruns would be the ninth-highest-rated program on TV. The show that defined the 1990s remains wildly popular today and has a legacy that has endured beyond wildest expectations. And in this hilarious, informative, and entertaining book, readers will now understand why. “A treat for Friends fans, from OG Must See TV viewers to the new generation of streamers, full of insights into what made a quintessential ’90s phenomenon into a lasting, international classic for the ages. You’ll get your share of juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits, from vicious writers’-room debates about Rachel and Joey’s romance to the time the producers almost moved the setting to Minneapolis (seriously). But you’ll also get a hit of nostalgia for a time when an entire nation hung on the fate of Ross and Rachel, and plenty of smart analysis of why Friends was the right show at the right time … and also continues to be the right show at an entirely different time.” —Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia

30 review for Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kate Vocke (bookapotamus)

    My first thought when I saw this book was coming out? ‘Oh. My. Gawd.’ And then, “How You Doin’?” Could I BE any more excited? Nope. I don’t think I could. It’s a 'Moo' point. This book, Would Be Perfection. This book, will be my Lobster. We will go together like a Chick and a Duck because it’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy and it IS a big deal!! You’re going to want to be ‘On a Break’ and summon all your UNAGI when you dive into this one because you will gobble it up My first thought when I saw this book was coming out? ‘Oh. My. Gawd.’ And then, “How You Doin’?” Could I BE any more excited? Nope. I don’t think I could. It’s a 'Moo' point. This book, Would Be Perfection. This book, will be my Lobster. We will go together like a Chick and a Duck because it’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy and it IS a big deal!! You’re going to want to be ‘On a Break’ and summon all your UNAGI when you dive into this one because you will gobble it up like teenage Monica and 5 types of Thanksgiving potatoes and still get the meat sweats. The fun facts and tidbits packed into this fun book will Steal Your Wind - and you’ll want to read it more times than Ross has been married! Layers upon layers of things I never knew! This book truly goes Commando and lets it all hang out. Layers as juicy as an English Trifle. Things that ‘They Don’t Know, That we Know, They Know we Know', but also insider scoop worthy of a Royal, like Princess Consuela Bananahammock. You’re going to laugh until Mr. Heckles bangs on your ceiling with a broom to quiet down. You’re going to run like Phoebe, arms flailing - don’t PIVOT! - to get this one. It is no Smelly Cat. Place it on your Apothecary Table so your own friends can enjoy it. Cause on a scale on 1 to 7… this book is a 7,7,7,7……SEVEN! Huge thanks to Dutton Books for gifting me with this book. It’s 'kick you in the crotch, spit on your neck fantastic’! And it’s out today!! Who’s your favorite friend?! Mine’s Joey! Because like, Joey - Kate doesn’t share food!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura • lauralovestoread

    I grew up watching FRIENDS, and still find myself drawn in to watch the show if it’s on. I knew I needed to read this book, to get all of the behind the scenes details. I loved that some of the influences of the show creators were represented in Phoebe, Chandler and Monica. I can’t imagine the characters being represented by any other actor, so that was interesting to learn that som of the actresses auditioned for other characters for the show! *Thank you to the publisher for the gift I grew up watching FRIENDS, and still find myself drawn in to watch the show if it’s on. I knew I needed to read this book, to get all of the behind the scenes details. I loved that some of the influences of the show creators were represented in Phoebe, Chandler and Monica. I can’t imagine the characters being represented by any other actor, so that was interesting to learn that som of the actresses auditioned for other characters for the show! *Thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy for review. All opinions are my own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    If you're a Friends fanatic--as I am--then this book is a must read. I was already familiar with some of the information here of course having read everything else I could find on the subject but Austerlitz offers interesting analysis of the Friends' phenomena here in the U.S. and across the world. This sit com from the 90s continues to be popular with new generations. Why? Austerlitz finds the answer in the world presented in Friends. It's one of belonging, of finding one's way into If you're a Friends fanatic--as I am--then this book is a must read. I was already familiar with some of the information here of course having read everything else I could find on the subject but Austerlitz offers interesting analysis of the Friends' phenomena here in the U.S. and across the world. This sit com from the 90s continues to be popular with new generations. Why? Austerlitz finds the answer in the world presented in Friends. It's one of belonging, of finding one's way into adulthood with the support of a chosen family of friends. It also is set in a different world, one before terrorism ruled the world (although 9/11 happened during its run, the series decided to not include the event which would obviously eclipse anything else and, although they worried about this decision, apparently people turned to it for comfort in a dark time). It has many flaws: homophobia (although also presenting a loving gay couple and their wedding and a loving relationship between two of its male stars, Joey and Chandler) and, especially, the lack of diversity in one of the most diverse cities in the world). Despite these drawbacks, the show presents caring relationships within a well-crafted and acted vehicle. I especially enjoyed all the behind-the-scenes coverage which is, in fact, the major focus of the book. The information about the actual process of writing (a team of writers working grueling hours together to create as perfect a script as possible), the producers/creators/directors' contributions and process, including the work of costume designers and props' person) was fascinating, at least to me. It was more than just an analysis of the making of Friends' but a look into the creative process and the world of television. Reading this book was great fun for me and it went by too quickly. Of course, all of us who love Friends must read it but it will also be of interest to those interested in the entire process of putting together a television show, including the creative process, the production process and the ordinary nuts and bolts of it all.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lyndsey

    holy nostalgia! I consider myself to be a FRIENDS superfan, okay? i’ve seen each episode well over 100 times, and I STILL laugh at Chandler’s jokes, Rachel’s ditziness, Phoebe’s eccentric personality, Joey’s blonde moments, Monica’s antics, and Ross’s hopeless romantic gestures. I was beyond excited when I saw this book was being released because I had hoped it would dive further into the behind the scenes life of FRIENDS than a certain other book released last year had. This book exce holy nostalgia! I consider myself to be a FRIENDS superfan, okay? i’ve seen each episode well over 100 times, and I STILL laugh at Chandler’s jokes, Rachel’s ditziness, Phoebe’s eccentric personality, Joey’s blonde moments, Monica’s antics, and Ross’s hopeless romantic gestures. I was beyond excited when I saw this book was being released because I had hoped it would dive further into the behind the scenes life of FRIENDS than a certain other book released last year had. This book exceeded my expectations and had me reliving each season moment by moment. The casting and overall beginning of the show is very interesting if you don’t know how the world of television shows works, which I didn’t, so it was extremely informative. I loved reading about Matthew Perry’s genuine passion to play Chandler, and how he helped other guys audition for the role because he couldn’t take it at the time. I also loved that the FRIENDS cast was just that in real life, too, friends! I didn’t know they all got paid the same amount throughout all 10 seasons, and they stuck together and were there for each other behind the scenes as well as while the cameras were rolling. I didn’t know a ton about the lawsuit against FRIENDS going into this book, but I definitely felt like I walked away with a good general knowledge about what happened and the outcome. I like how the author addressed the hot topic of slim to none diversity on the show, but did so in a classy, well informed way that wasn’t flat out bashing the series. It’s very clear that Saul did his homework and extensive research and interviews to bring us the most exciting facts and stories surrounding the show, and I am super appreciative of that. It was also super refreshing to know that the cast also hated the Rachel/Joey love interest plot just as much as I think the rest of the audience did. I loved reading about how everyone was cast, the relationships between the writers and cast, the cast’s rising stardom throughout it all, the guest stars and how they acted on set, and how emotional the last season really was to film. What happened next for our favorite FRIENDS, and everything in between. I feel like now I could definitely walk into a trivia night and ace every single question regarding my favorite TV show in the entire world. Thank you, Dutton Publishing, for sending me this amazing book in exchange for my honest review, and thank you Saul Austerlitz for helping me fall even more in love with my show!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    When you don't have a car for a month due to a predatory car insurance industry, you can get a LOT of reading done!! I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Friends, published for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the show's premiere. Howyoudoin’? When you don't have a car for a month due to a predatory car insurance industry, you can get a LOT of reading done!! I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Friends, published for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the show's premiere. Howyoudoin’? In September 1994, six friends sat down in their favourite coffee shop and began bantering about sex, relationships, jobs, and just about everything else. A quarter of a century later, new fans are still finding their way into the lives of Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Monica, and Phoebe, and thanks to the show’s immensely talented creators, its intimate understanding of its youthful audience, and its reign during network television’s last moment of dominance, Friends has become the most influential and beloved show of its era. "Friends" has never gone on a break, and this is the story of how it all happened. Noted pop culture historian Saul Austerlitz utilizes exclusive interviews with creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, executive producer Kevin Bright, director James Burrows, and many other producers, writers, and cast members to tell the story of Friends’ creation, its remarkable decade-long run, and its astonishing Netflix-fueled afterlife. Readers will go behind the scenes to hear from the people who were present as the show was developed and cast, written and filmed. There will be the talk of trivia contests, prom videos, trips to London, Super Bowls, lesbian weddings, wildly popular hairstyles, superstar cameos, mad dashes to the airport, and million-dollar contracts. They’ll also discover surprising details—that Monica and Joey were the show’s original romantic couple, how Danielle Steel probably saved Jennifer Aniston’s career, and why Friends is still so popular that if it was a new show, its over-the-air broadcast reruns would be the ninth-highest-rated program on TV. The show that defined the 1990s has a legacy that has endured beyond wildest expectations. And in this hilarious, informative, and entertaining book, readers will now understand why. I LOVE the show Friends but I learned nothing new in this book. Why? Because last year I read and reviewed a book named "I'll Be There for You" and it had pretty much 95% of the information in this book. (It was also 1/3 footnotes - at least this book was "all writing"!) If you have not wasted your time reading that book (which I did not like) you would like this one - it is perfect for any fan of the show. I am going to give it a solid middle of the road 2.5/5 stars (rounded up to 3) as someone who did not read the other book would enjoy learning what is in this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leah Lawson

    This is the second book in the last year that I have read about Friends. I enjoyed reading this one much more. If felt less political and more about the actual show and actors/actresses.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I received Generation Friends as part of a Goodreads giveaway. On the 25th anniversary of its premiere, Saul Austerlitz recounts the background, meteoric popularity, and aftermath of Friends. Overviews of episodes and story arcs, interviews with creators and writers, and related information about the cast and crew give a well-rounded portrait of the ratings juggernaut. As someone who adored Friends as a teenager, I really enjoyed this. There were some stories I knew backwar I received Generation Friends as part of a Goodreads giveaway. On the 25th anniversary of its premiere, Saul Austerlitz recounts the background, meteoric popularity, and aftermath of Friends. Overviews of episodes and story arcs, interviews with creators and writers, and related information about the cast and crew give a well-rounded portrait of the ratings juggernaut. As someone who adored Friends as a teenager, I really enjoyed this. There were some stories I knew backward and forwards; others I heard for the first time. Despite it being almost 15 years since watching the show regularly, I spotted a couple errors that will hopefully get fixed in editing (in TOW the Blackout, Ross tells Rachel that he sees big passion in her future, not the reverse!), and occasionally I feel like it relies too heavily on episode summaries. That said, it's clearly a well-researched look at not only the show, but the sociological elements that made it such a smash hit. He also doesn't shy away from the criticisms--the show's lack of diversity, the tinges of homophobia, the sanitization of New York City--that (straight white girl from the Midwestern suburbs that I am/was) I was ignorant of at the time. A fun and nostalgic look back at an impactful if imperfect show.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Heather McC

    Saul Austerlitz does his very best to commemorate Friends' 25th anniversary and while his book does serve as a love letter of sorts to the beloved TV show of the mid 90s and early aughts, the book falls short in terms of getting little details correct in quite a few instances. It wouldn't take very much for a superfan to notice referenced storylines that are not quite accurate, or pieces of character backstory that do not add up with what viewers originally saw. Ultimately, a commemorative book Saul Austerlitz does his very best to commemorate Friends' 25th anniversary and while his book does serve as a love letter of sorts to the beloved TV show of the mid 90s and early aughts, the book falls short in terms of getting little details correct in quite a few instances. It wouldn't take very much for a superfan to notice referenced storylines that are not quite accurate, or pieces of character backstory that do not add up with what viewers originally saw. Ultimately, a commemorative book is better than no book at all, but as a 'Friends' superfan, and fan of overall research, I found myself distracted and wanting to take Austerlitz to task for glaring errors (albeit small) in the book. Since the book is intended as nonfiction and chronicles a history of the show, the little details matter and ultimately prevent the book from achieving the five star rating it otherwise would have gotten.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Leitsch

    A fun, fast read. Not as juicy as I hoped, but I did enjoy a peek into the life of a television writer. I also liked the analysis of why the show was an audience favorite when it originally aired versus why audiences like it now. Interesting social commentary. Definitely a worthy read for fans of the show!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lulu

    Interesting read for "Friends" fans, a few mistakes (misattributed quotes from some episodes) but those are minor quibbles, overall an enjoyable, behind-the-scenes look at television's most enduring sitcom.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Could this book BE more awesome?!?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    Thank you to Penguin Group Dutton and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published on September 17th, 2019. 📚 As someone who has only seen about a third of Friends' 236 episodes, I wasn't sure if this was going to be the book for me. I was a year and three months old when the first episode hit the air. I've watched episodes casually with friends and seen clips on Youtube, but as a more casual fan than a die-hard one, I wondered i Thank you to Penguin Group Dutton and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published on September 17th, 2019. 📚 As someone who has only seen about a third of Friends' 236 episodes, I wasn't sure if this was going to be the book for me. I was a year and three months old when the first episode hit the air. I've watched episodes casually with friends and seen clips on Youtube, but as a more casual fan than a die-hard one, I wondered if this book could catch my interest. I ended up loving it. From the first few chapters of Generation Friends, I was so captivated by the inside look at the creation of a beloved series. Saul Austerlitz's countless hours of research have allowed him to create a nonfiction text that reads much like a compelling narrative. I found myself rooting for the success of the TV show as it evolved from pilot to season to series. Even though I knew the show would reach the height of popularity, I was still pulled into the pageturner as the showrunners worked to navigate the complexities of bringing their vision to life. Whether you watched Friends from its launch in 1994 or you're just discovering the series now, I highly recommend Generation Friends. Bonus: an audio version of this book will be available from Penguin Random House Audio - perfect for car rides or a morning commute! You can preorder it now on Audible! 🎧

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ashley *Booksbrewsandbarks*

    I loved reminiscing through reading this book! Packed with informative tidbits about the show, from its initial conception through its very last episode as well as the individual actors' lives beyond its end, this book truly brings insider information to the average viewer and reader. While I initially thought the layout of the chapters was odd, by the end I appreciated that it read more like a collection of essays. It was easy to finish a chapter and really let the information sink in that was I loved reminiscing through reading this book! Packed with informative tidbits about the show, from its initial conception through its very last episode as well as the individual actors' lives beyond its end, this book truly brings insider information to the average viewer and reader. While I initially thought the layout of the chapters was odd, by the end I appreciated that it read more like a collection of essays. It was easy to finish a chapter and really let the information sink in that was presented. There were some parts that were dry and repetitive but the juicy and more informative information was sprinkled in enough to keep the reader wanting to move forward. While some information may seem common knowledge, there was plenty of new and very interesting information that I probably would have never known otherwise. I even got weepy at some parts, as it brought me back to the time and place where I first experienced certain episodes. Only one chapter I felt was completely unneeded, which related to a case against the writers of the show and sexual harassment. While it was informative, it didn't paint the plaintiff in a great light in my opinion without much at all being in her favor or making the case seemed justified. The chapter made the book get super serious all of a sudden and felt completely out of place and slightly unwarranted. All in all, this book is greatly recommended for any fans of the show of 90's pop culture aficionados in general. It is so fun to lose yourself in great TV memories and reminisce about a show that meant so much to so many people.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Its hard to take a “Friends” book seriously when there are a few glaring mistakes regarding plotlines and episodes!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Laura Hill

    Thank you to Penguin Group Dutton and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on September 17th, 2019. A fun read for those of us who are big Friends fans (and apparently there are a lot of us). I’m not a big TV person — I don’t have cable, and usually just watch a single movie on DVD at night — but I loved Friends, owned all the DVDs, and it was definitely my go to in times of stress. I just never realized how popular it was with everyo Thank you to Penguin Group Dutton and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on September 17th, 2019. A fun read for those of us who are big Friends fans (and apparently there are a lot of us). I’m not a big TV person — I don’t have cable, and usually just watch a single movie on DVD at night — but I loved Friends, owned all the DVDs, and it was definitely my go to in times of stress. I just never realized how popular it was with everyone else. The book tracks the show from concept through the ten seasons to the offshoots, residuals, and “where are they now” recaps. Decent (and sometimes excellent) writing, a good structure, and comprehensive in scope, it has just the right amount of gossip and mixes plenty of pleasant recognition with surprisingly fresh insights. I also learned a lot about the making of TV — scheduling, showrunners, production companies vs networks, bidding wars, contract negotiations and some fascinating explanations of what went into the set and costume design. I liked the first half better — the second half included a lot of bits that needed to be included to be complete but weren’t terribly interesting to me — one female writer’s hostile workplace suit, Matthew Perry’s addiction issues, etc. I didn’t always agree with the author’s conclusions, and sometimes felt there was too much episode recap, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed myself and learned a lot about how things work in an industry far away from my own. Some fun quotes: “Chase and Ungerleider had emerged from the same bookish East Coast Jewish milieu as Kauffman and Crane. Chase knew he could instantly summon that overly caffeinated, verbose, linguistically tricky voice.” “Journalists pored over the results with the nuance of elderly Talmudists, intent on parsing the meaning of the message being sent by the American moviegoing populace.” “Neither Crane nor Kauffman was familiar with the term going commando, but when the entire staff urged them to include it, asserting that their audience would instantly understand the reference, they acceded. (Eventually, the Oxford English Dictionary would credit Friends with one of the earliest recorded usages of the term.)” “The world of Friends is notable, to modern eyes,” wrote New York’s Sternergh, “for what it encompasses about being young and single and carefree in the city but also for what it doesn’t encompass: social media, smartphones, student debt the sexual politics of Tinder, moving back in with your parents as a matter of course, and a national mood that vacillates between anxiety and defeatism.”

  16. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Hoyer

    I already read a book about Friends earlier this year, Kelsey Miller's I'll Be There For You. Whereas that book felt more about the series' place in our culture rather than about the creation of the series, this book is much more about how the show came to be and the history of its ten-year production and afterlife. It spends less time, although (I would argue) still too much, trying to figure out why the appeal of this sitcom has lasted as long and as fervently as it has. I've always found that I already read a book about Friends earlier this year, Kelsey Miller's I'll Be There For You. Whereas that book felt more about the series' place in our culture rather than about the creation of the series, this book is much more about how the show came to be and the history of its ten-year production and afterlife. It spends less time, although (I would argue) still too much, trying to figure out why the appeal of this sitcom has lasted as long and as fervently as it has. I've always found that a fool's errand in a number of ways. First of all, who can actually say why ANYTHING has the impact it has? It is perpetual Monday morning quarterbacking/20-20 hindsight to try and figure it out. And secondly, I don't actually think it's that complicated: people think the show is funny and they care about the characters. Done. Anyway, I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes, artistic aspect of how the show came to be, how it was produced, and why certain creative decisions were made. What knocked my rating down was WAY WAY WAY too much recapping of major (and sometimes relatively minor) plot points. I think if you've decided to read 327 pages about a tv show, you've probably seen it enough not to need a reminder about every little thing that happened. Even worse, though, are whole paragraphs and sometimes even whole chapters of describing in prose some of the best jokes of the series, even going so far as to sometimes describe physical, non-verbal takes. What is the point of that? Again, anyone reading probably already knows what you're talking about, and the humor of these moments is utterly and completely destroyed by just describing them. I would have taken the probably 70-80 total pages devoted to that and replaced them with more stories from the writers room or from the cast about the actual creative processes that led to notable moments from the series. That major caveat aside, I enjoyed this book more than the previous one I read, and it provided a fascinating glimpse into the creation of a series that I love. Now what I'd really love is a gigantic oral-history book about the development, run, and aftermath of Friends, a la James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales' book 'Live From New York' about Saturday Night Live. Who's going to write that? Maybe I should?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Mitchell

    Special thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Group Dutton and Saul Austerlitz for a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. If I had to title this book as an episode with Friends, I would name it - The One With All the Memories. As a HUGE fan of Friends - I own all ten season on DVD and have even pre-ordered some items from the Pottery Barn 25th anniversary collection but not that apothecary table - I found myself reminiscing about the show a lot. The memories brought a smile to my Special thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Group Dutton and Saul Austerlitz for a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. If I had to title this book as an episode with Friends, I would name it - The One With All the Memories. As a HUGE fan of Friends - I own all ten season on DVD and have even pre-ordered some items from the Pottery Barn 25th anniversary collection but not that apothecary table - I found myself reminiscing about the show a lot. The memories brought a smile to my face and provided a few surprises as well. Generation Friends take the time to not only captivate the essence of the show and review each season's biggest episodes including the ballad of Ross and Rachel, it also discusses what it was like to be behind the scenes from the writers to the producers to the design teams (both set and wardrobe) to the auditions to contract negotiations, etc. I never realized how many big name actors and actresses auditioned for a part. It is fun imagining how the dynamic and the show's success could have all been different with one simple change in cast. My biggest love regarding Generation Friends and what Saul Austerlitz really seems to get is that Friends worked and still works because it is an escape from reality. To this day, I still watch the reruns on TBS. It is still my go to show. I know all the episodes and most the lines. Friends has the wonderful ability to bring a sense of nostalgia to its viewers. I watched it religiously with my friends in high school and then in college. Times were simpler and so was Friends. Saul Austerlitz captures the sentiment perfectly.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    (Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book!) I was (and am) a diehard Friends fan and proud champion of the Friends trivia game I own but no one will play with me anymore, so this deep dive into the history of the show was mostly a delight. Austerlitz clearly knows his stuff, and managed to get extensive, tidbit-laden interviews with most of the people involved in making the show, from the creators and writers to actors and guest stars. A surprising amount of the b (Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book!) I was (and am) a diehard Friends fan and proud champion of the Friends trivia game I own but no one will play with me anymore, so this deep dive into the history of the show was mostly a delight. Austerlitz clearly knows his stuff, and managed to get extensive, tidbit-laden interviews with most of the people involved in making the show, from the creators and writers to actors and guest stars. A surprising amount of the book is dedicated to recapping episodes. While I enjoyed reminiscing about what happened on the show, I could’ve used more analysis and less summary. And for someone who’s obviously seen the show almost as much as I have, he has a surprising number of factual errors in those recaps, especially attributing lines to the wrong characters. (It’s Ross who tells Rachel “I see big passion in your future”, not the other way around, but Austerlitz uses the misattributed speech as a talking point for their budding relationship. And he mixes up Ross and Rachel again in the finale, saying that it was Rachel who said, “Don’t make jokes now,” instead of Ross talking to himself.) Hopefully a lot of these get fixed in the final edit, although most readers probably won’t know the difference. There will be inevitable comparisons to last year’s I’ll Be There for You, Kelsey Miller’s joyous romp through Friends nostalgia and fandom. Her book was more like a love letter to the show, with her own experiences and opinions mixed in with some of the same show trivia and insider information. This reads more like an authorized history of the show, a little drier but still full of interesting tidbits. If you love Friends, you’ll want to read both.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Flossmoor Public Library (IL)

    5 stars Friends is one of those shows that has found both an audience in people who watched it when it was "Must-See TV" and in younger generations looking for a glimpse of what friendships and life in your 20s might look like. For those interested in learning more about this iconic show, Saul Austerlitz has written a book that explains, analyzes, and remembers all the best (and worst) parts of Friends. There is information about the creators, how they developed and fine-tuned the con 5 stars Friends is one of those shows that has found both an audience in people who watched it when it was "Must-See TV" and in younger generations looking for a glimpse of what friendships and life in your 20s might look like. For those interested in learning more about this iconic show, Saul Austerlitz has written a book that explains, analyzes, and remembers all the best (and worst) parts of Friends. There is information about the creators, how they developed and fine-tuned the concept of six 20-somethings living in 1990s Manhattan, how the show morphed into a lasting pop culture staple, and all the details in between. Both positive elements as well as the not-so-shiny parts of Friends (such as the all-white cast, storylines that might be considered problematic in 2019, and the equality of men and women in the television industry) are all acknowledged and assessed. Austleritz made an effort to communicate with many different people associated with the show throughout its ten-year run, which makes the book seem more well-researched and accurate to what actually happened on set, with the friendships the cast and crew built, and why Friends became as important as it did. I highly recommend this book to fans of Friends as well as those interested in the show's impact both when it originally aired and on today's television screens. - Miss Anna

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shannon K

    Generation Friends by Saul Austerlitz is the latest in a recent wave of analyses and retrospectives on the history and lasting legacy of FRIENDS. FRIENDS will always hold a special place in my heart as I watched it with my brother on DVD and it was one of the first things we really bonded over. Generation Friends takes a look at the history of the show - how it came to be in every facet, what made it so successful, and why it has endured long since it went off the air, not just with those who wa Generation Friends by Saul Austerlitz is the latest in a recent wave of analyses and retrospectives on the history and lasting legacy of FRIENDS. FRIENDS will always hold a special place in my heart as I watched it with my brother on DVD and it was one of the first things we really bonded over. Generation Friends takes a look at the history of the show - how it came to be in every facet, what made it so successful, and why it has endured long since it went off the air, not just with those who watched it during its run, but as a new generation has found it and identified with it. The writing of Generation Friends was great; Austerlitz provided great detail and new nuggets of information that even this avid FRIENDS fan didn't know. However, there were times where SO much detail/rehashing of storylines was provided, down to many many quotes. While I understand the necessity of explaining storylines for a reader who may not have every episode memorized, for someone who is extremely familiar with almost all of the storylines at time it just felt like a bit much. That said, I really enjoyed the way the book was structured and all of the different elements that were examined from the casting, to the writing, to the design, etc. I think this is a great read for FRIENDS fanatics, and for those curious about why it has connected with so many people for so long. 4/5 stars

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Terry

    I'm a nut for behind-the-scenes stuff, so I was rather excited to read this book after reading a preview chapter online a while back. And overall, I did enjoy it. There were several things I learned that I didn't know before, and it presented a lot of tidbits from different angles than others have. So I dug that. I was surprised to notice a couple of errors (like them saying Gabrielle Union's character dated both Ross and Chandler when it was really Ross and Joey) because this was rat I'm a nut for behind-the-scenes stuff, so I was rather excited to read this book after reading a preview chapter online a while back. And overall, I did enjoy it. There were several things I learned that I didn't know before, and it presented a lot of tidbits from different angles than others have. So I dug that. I was surprised to notice a couple of errors (like them saying Gabrielle Union's character dated both Ross and Chandler when it was really Ross and Joey) because this was rather easy stuff that I'm shocked none of the editors or anyone caught, so that kind of dimmed the light a little bit for me. Outside of that, the last chapter or two, especially the last one, became kind of a hard read because it veered more into seeming like an article, and just not as interesting. And while the content of the book was interesting, the tone was rather stiff (to me) and less conversational than other ones I've read of the same type. More than a few times, it got to be so wordy that I actually had to break out the dictionary, and I have a very good vocabulary. Overall, though, I was glued to the majority of the book, and I'm sure I'll read it (or parts of it) again at some point in the future.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was a fun read and a look behind the scenes at one of my all-time favorite shows. It looks back at the history of Friends, how it came to be, the casting, the initial reviews (not good) and how it went on to be an absolute juggernaut that America loved. Not to mention the stars ended up being some of the highest paid on TV, and what was really cool is that during each contract negotiation, the cast agreed to stick together so they would all be paid the same. They saw it as an ensemble cast This was a fun read and a look behind the scenes at one of my all-time favorite shows. It looks back at the history of Friends, how it came to be, the casting, the initial reviews (not good) and how it went on to be an absolute juggernaut that America loved. Not to mention the stars ended up being some of the highest paid on TV, and what was really cool is that during each contract negotiation, the cast agreed to stick together so they would all be paid the same. They saw it as an ensemble cast with no clear headlining star (which it was), so they did not think that any of them should be paid more than the other. The book also revisits each season and major plotline, pointing out some of the ways the writers came up with ideas (wow they worked CRAZY LONG hours, what an absolute grind...and the pressure!!!), and how some characters were fleshed out (Monica was not originally the OCD perfectionist clean freak she evolved into.) Interesting and entertaining read for anyone who is a fan of the show, and a really good look at what it takes behind the scenes to continue to put out a hit show.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Pole

    Generation Friends by Saul Austerlitz is a must-read for even the most casual, or closet, fan of the iconic television phenomenon that is Friends. Having watched the show from its inception in 1994, I believed that I was fairly well-versed in the intricacies of each episode and storyline, but I quickly realized that my memories of the show only scratched the surface. Through detailed interviews with the show's creators, writers, and network execs, we are given unprecedented insight into what tra Generation Friends by Saul Austerlitz is a must-read for even the most casual, or closet, fan of the iconic television phenomenon that is Friends. Having watched the show from its inception in 1994, I believed that I was fairly well-versed in the intricacies of each episode and storyline, but I quickly realized that my memories of the show only scratched the surface. Through detailed interviews with the show's creators, writers, and network execs, we are given unprecedented insight into what transpired behind the scenes. The author provides a seemingly unbiased account and, in so doing, has reignited in me an entirely new appreciation for a sitcom that would forever change the trajectory of television. This is a fun and nostalgic read that is full of details and revelations that are sure to surprise even the most ardent of fans. Fair warning, though. After reading this book you will want to immediately binge the entire series on Netflix and, if you are like me, you will have the theme song playing on an unending loop in your head for many days. Highly recommended. Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton for this ARC.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This was an excellent time! It's clear the author did a lot of research, and I appreciate that he made an effort to speak with a wide range of people who had been involved with Friends. There's both behind the scenes information on how the show was created and what it took to get sets made and scripts written, as well as analysis of the various plotlines throughout the show's run - those that held up well, and those that didn't - and how they impacted Friends's cultural significance. I also like This was an excellent time! It's clear the author did a lot of research, and I appreciate that he made an effort to speak with a wide range of people who had been involved with Friends. There's both behind the scenes information on how the show was created and what it took to get sets made and scripts written, as well as analysis of the various plotlines throughout the show's run - those that held up well, and those that didn't - and how they impacted Friends's cultural significance. I also liked that the author (who obviously speaks from a place of love for the show) isn't afraid to be critical when necessary. Not all plotlines were great, and some were problematic. Others might have been good for their time but not now (there's a section on Carol and Susan's wedding, and how it was important at the time, but the show runners still weren't allowed to show them share a kiss at the altar). I was a little nervous that it would be all glowing praise and skate over the bad parts but it didn't. It was thoughtful and interesting.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katie Mac

    I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I have a complicated relationship with the show; it was a huge part of my life as a teenager, and my friends and I even embarked on a mission to watch all ten seasons my freshman year of college, but I now cringe at the homophobic remarks and other insensitive plot lines of the show, and I still fume when I think about Amaani Lyle's awful experience with the writers on the show (which later turned into a lawsuit). I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I have a complicated relationship with the show; it was a huge part of my life as a teenager, and my friends and I even embarked on a mission to watch all ten seasons my freshman year of college, but I now cringe at the homophobic remarks and other insensitive plot lines of the show, and I still fume when I think about Amaani Lyle's awful experience with the writers on the show (which later turned into a lawsuit). Also, I've listened to Andrew Reich on enough podcast episodes to find him obnoxious and man-splainey. Thankfully, Saul Austerlitz doesn't shy away from these aspects of the show's history; I appreciated that he interviewed Lyle and made her experience into its own chapter. It's clear that Austerlitz deserves his reputation as a prolific author and historian of pop culture; his narrative structure is excellent. He also managed to invoke even more nostalgia for the show than I thought I could ever have.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lee Ann

    3.5 stars. I saw every episode in its first run and occasionally watch reruns but wouldn't consider myself fanatical. This was a fun and fascinating look at the show's continuing importance to television. It follows the show's history and people from idea, to casting, to episodes, to a new generation discovering the show via Netflix streaming. (I can attest that the late teen/early 20-somethings in my life are obsessed with this show.) There aren't new interviews with any of the individuals invo 3.5 stars. I saw every episode in its first run and occasionally watch reruns but wouldn't consider myself fanatical. This was a fun and fascinating look at the show's continuing importance to television. It follows the show's history and people from idea, to casting, to episodes, to a new generation discovering the show via Netflix streaming. (I can attest that the late teen/early 20-somethings in my life are obsessed with this show.) There aren't new interviews with any of the individuals involved, but that's okay for this book's focus. There are also only a handful of photos, which is also okay. Among the positives of the show is that the women and their stories were equal to the men. Even offscreen the actors banded together to demand that they be paid exactly the same or they would all walk. Author Saul Austerlitz also frankly discusses the dichotomies in the show: lesbian characters and transgender character vs homophobic humor, entirely Caucasian friends vs non-Caucasian love interests, the strength of the main actors vs stunt/star casting.

  27. 5 out of 5

    April Greissinger

    Thanks to Dutton Books for my free copy in exchange for my honest opinion! I am a huge fan of the show Friends, even though it came out a year after I was born, but it's such a fun show that never gets old! And I'm not even sure how many times I have rewatched it! I was so excited to read this book and find out so many new things about the show and actors! This was a light and fun book, and it was so interesting to see what went on behind the scenes with the show! I loved reading how Thanks to Dutton Books for my free copy in exchange for my honest opinion! I am a huge fan of the show Friends, even though it came out a year after I was born, but it's such a fun show that never gets old! And I'm not even sure how many times I have rewatched it! I was so excited to read this book and find out so many new things about the show and actors! This was a light and fun book, and it was so interesting to see what went on behind the scenes with the show! I loved reading how the show really came to be, learning more about actors, and seeing what really went into the writing process! It's crazy seeing how the writers initially wanted the characters personalities, and things they changed as the show went on. And crazy to see how big of a hit it still is today, and all the new audiences this show is reaching! While some parts were more bland and I skimmed over them, other parts were so interesting and I couldn't tear my eyes away from the book! Definitely pick this one up if you love Friends and want to learn more about how this show really came to be!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Nims

    I am one of those people who would spend so much money to sit in Monica and Rachel’s apartment and get coffee from central perk. This book gives an in depth look at the behind the scenes of friends. The book feels like the internet compiled into one book. I felt like I was watching the show all over again but in a different way. I got a whole new perspective on relationships from Ross and Rachel to the hookups. Before I read this I had no idea about all the disputes between writers and the casts I am one of those people who would spend so much money to sit in Monica and Rachel’s apartment and get coffee from central perk. This book gives an in depth look at the behind the scenes of friends. The book feels like the internet compiled into one book. I felt like I was watching the show all over again but in a different way. I got a whole new perspective on relationships from Ross and Rachel to the hookups. Before I read this I had no idea about all the disputes between writers and the casts issues with contracts and payment. My only issues were that some things were told out of order. For example, it talked about the end of the series but then the next chapter went back to Ross and Rachel in seasons 8-10. I felt some things were very repetitive like saying how and why the show connected with younger audiences and why people still love it 25 years later. Overall I really liked this book and would recommend it to anyone who is a friends fanatic much like myself.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    While parts of this book are a lot of fun for a friends superfan like me, I feel this author just doesn’t get it. I was expecting some behind the scenes gossip and show facts and that would have been really good to me. What it actually was turned into a TON of stupid opinions by this obviously liberal idiot author and at least four stupidly mentioned digs on the president of the United States. Automatic deductions of Stars for those comments. I hate that more than anything in a book. To me this While parts of this book are a lot of fun for a friends superfan like me, I feel this author just doesn’t get it. I was expecting some behind the scenes gossip and show facts and that would have been really good to me. What it actually was turned into a TON of stupid opinions by this obviously liberal idiot author and at least four stupidly mentioned digs on the president of the United States. Automatic deductions of Stars for those comments. I hate that more than anything in a book. To me this book should not be a non fiction book because this author takes so much liberty making his own opinions up. The source notes in the back just solidify the fact this guy just read some articles and made up a fiction book. The chapter at the end is WORTHLESS! Don’t tell me how all you idiotic social justice warriors feel friends is a detriment to society. It was fun and continues to be fun. This author is a moron!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I'm by no means the biggest FRIENDS super-fan alive. I was 10 when it first aired, but never really watched it while it was on. I've only ever seen it as reruns and on Netflix. Even so, I was able to find my place among the crowds and do really like the show, and don't think I ever won't like it. This book was a fun read as it shared about how the show began, things I hadn't thought about but found fascinating and completely made sense as I learned about them: like the color schemes of characters, th I'm by no means the biggest FRIENDS super-fan alive. I was 10 when it first aired, but never really watched it while it was on. I've only ever seen it as reruns and on Netflix. Even so, I was able to find my place among the crowds and do really like the show, and don't think I ever won't like it. This book was a fun read as it shared about how the show began, things I hadn't thought about but found fascinating and completely made sense as I learned about them: like the color schemes of characters, the casting, the A, B, and C plots, and the way the cast looked out for and supported each other outside the show. No matter what you think of FRIENDS; if you watched it or not; if you liked it or hated it; despite things it did one way when it could have done them another; it was a one-of-kind show in its lasting impact (for better or worse). That alone gives it credit.

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