Friends: The Reunion

Friends: The Reunion ★★½

I want a "Friends: The Reunion" spinoff that sweeps everything Matthew Perry said off the cutting room floor and uses it to explore his addiction struggles and rehab visits. There's clearly some deep-seated pain in Perry's life, which he briefly touches on when he tells his castmates it felt "like I was going to die if (the audience) didn’t laugh (at me)" every night during the sitcom's production. But the reunion special isn't interested in the complexities of the past. It would rather celebrate nostalgia without getting into that dark stuff. It's like the house party that's happening while the guy in the corner is crying.

Perry confides that "it wasn't healthy" how he lived for the praise during those days and just as Lisa Kudrow solemnly acknowledges that Perry's fellow castmates had no idea what he was going through, the reunion special quickly changes course to focus on the laughs.

"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" reunion found ways to grapple with both the good and the bad with an eye towards healing. The qualities wound up creating some of the most poignant moments of the Will Smith-led gathering. Perhaps it's too ambitious to expect that "Friends," a series that found its feel-good moments between transgender jokes and a glaringly white cast, would explore the difficult questions surrounding its massive success. Or maybe Perry isn't at a point in his personal life where he can contend with his own struggles.

Whatever the reason, there's an elephant in the room of this reunion party and I found it hard to ignore.

On a lighter note: Do you think Paul Rudd still has the camcorder footage from the series finale?

EDIT: Perry's reps have told some media outlets that he had "emergency dental surgery" the day of the shoot, which may explain his aloofness, but his comments stand.

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