" (also known as "The One Where it All Began
" and "The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate
") is the first episode of the American television situation comedy Friends
, which premiered on NBC
on September 22, 1994. It introduces the six friends (played by an ensemble cast); three men and three women who live in Greenwich Village
and meet regularly at a local coffee house to discuss family, work and relationships. The episode focuses on Rachel Green
(played by Jennifer Aniston
) running out of her wedding, and Ross Geller
(played by David Schwimmer
) moving on with his life after his ex-wife moves her possessions out of the apartment.
The episode was directed by James Burrows, written by series creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, and guest-starred John Allen Nelson as Paul (Monica's date) and Clea Lewis as Franny (Monica's co-worker).
) sits in a coffee house
being teased by her friends about a date she is going on that night, but is interrupted when her brother, Ross
) arrives, upset because his lesbian
ex-wife has moved her things out of the apartment and moved in with her partner. An old friend of Monica's, Rachel Green, runs into the coffee house wearing a wedding dress. Rachel explains that as she left her fiancé at the altar, she had no-one else to turn to. Rachel returns to Monica's apartment and Monica's date, Paul "the wine guy", arrives. They leave and Rachel stays in the apartment, while Ross, Chandler
) and Joey
) return to Ross's apartment to put together his new furniture. Ross bemoans his single life and is prompted by Joey and Chandler to start dating again. At dinner with Paul, Monica learns he has been impotent
since he divorced his wife and takes pity on him.
The next morning Chandler and Joey talk with Rachel and tell her about their jobs. Monica and Paul emerge from the bedroom and after he leaves Rachel tells Monica she will go out to find a job that day. At work, Monica learns that Paul's impotence was a ruse to instigate sex, and, later in the coffee house, is mocked by Joey and Chandler for not realising this. Rachel arrives and tells the group that because she failed 12 interviews, she bought boots with her father's credit card. The others tell her that if she wants to be independent she needs to cut up her cards, while Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) tries to find common ground by comparing Rachel's situation with the effect on her life of her own mother's suicide. That evening, Ross reveals to Rachel that he had a crush on her in high school. She tells him she knew and he asks her if he could ask her out on a date sometime. She agrees and Ross leaves, happy to be back in single life. In the tag scene, Chandler tells his friends about a dream that had Liza Minelli in it, while Rachel serves coffee; she has found a job in Central Perk.
David Schwimmer was the first to be cast. Having already done a different pilot for Kauffman and Crane in 1993, the part of Ross was written with him in mind. Lisa Kudrow's role as Ursula
on Mad About You
attracted the producers to her (later episodes would establish Ursula as Phoebe's twin sister). Courteney Cox was considered for the role of Rachel but, after reading the script, she read for Monica. Matt LeBlanc was cast as Joey because the producers wanted "a guy's guy". LeBlanc auditoned over eight times, and his final one was a reading with Jennifer Aniston and Cox. Matthew Perry had previously worked with Kauffman and Crane in an episode of Dream On
, and requested an audition after identifying with Chandler. He was denied the audition because he was "off the market" after appearing in a pilot called LAX 2194
. Jon Cryer
auditioned for Chandler while appearing on stage in London
. He read for a British
casting director who sent a video tape of his audition to the casting executives in Los Angeles, though the tape did not arrive in time. Perry was eventually cast when the network and producers decided his other pilot would not be commissioned for a full series. Aniston was cast last, having originally been eyed for Monica.
Writing and filming
When the pilot was first pitched the producers intended Phoebe and Chandler to be secondary characters who provided humor around the other four main characters, though by the time filming began they were a part of the core six. Joey and Chandler were originally written similarly but at the request of Burrows, Joey was "dumbed up a bit". NBC Entertainment president Don Ohlmeyer
was worried that the audience would see Monica as "a slut" because she slept with Paul on the first date, but the producers did not share the concern. A questionnaire was issued to the audience after the taping and the results sided with the producers. The same questionnaire was issued to focus groups, whose response was the same as Ohlmeyer's, but the episode went out unaltered. The series was known as Friends Like Us
during casting and Six of One
at the time of the pilot, but was retitled Friends
before broadcast. Several scenes that were cut from the episode were restored when the series went into syndication, bringing the running time to 37 minutes.
rates the episode B+ and states that "After 22 minutes, these six people are believably set up as lifelong buddies". Ross's line, "Do the words 'Billy, Don't Be a Hero
' mean anything to you?" is singled out as the best line of the episode. The authors of Friends Like Us: The Unofficial Guide to Friends
call it a "good, solid start to the series" but say "the regular cast (particularly Perry and Schwimmer) might be trying just a little too hard". Schwimmer recalls enjoying the physical humor that surrounded Ross, particularly a scene where Ross greets Rachel and opens an umbrella on her.
The production of this episode was the subject of a feature series in The New York Times on the creation of a network pilot.
- Stallings, Penny (2000). The Ultimate Friends Companion. London: Channel 4 Books.
- Wild, David (2004). Friends ...'Til the End. London: Headline.