Grab a latte as the show's creators wax poetic about couches, Chandler, romance, and the Rachel
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Friends
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You want friends in high places? You got ’em. Meet the proud parents of TV’s No. 1-rated comedy: series creators Marta Kauffman, 44, and David Crane, 43, and director Kevin S. Bright, 46. On the eve of Friends’ eighth and possibly final season (”The hope is it isn’t, but we honestly don’t know,” says Kauffman), the trio of executive producers sat down with ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY to spill the beans on everything from Chandler’s sexual identity to the disco remix of ”Smelly Cat.”

EW: WHICH OF YOU IDENTIFIES WITH WHICH CHARACTER? Crane I certainly identify with Ross’ kind of hapless wanting everything to work out and do the right thing, and Chandler’s defending himself with humor and trying to avoid things being real and keeping it light. Kauffman I would have to say Monica, for the most part — her controlling nature…. But I also feel a real connection to Phoebe, although I don’t feel that I’m like her. I do have some tendencies toward — what would you call it? — ghosts, spiritual, New Agey stuff…. And Kevin, you’re Rachel, right? Bright I was going to go with Gunther, because it’s kind of nice just knowing you can make the best cup of coffee and stand in the back and really enjoy the talented people in front of you.

EW: WASN’T THE SHOW INITIALLY GOING TO FOCUS ON THE FOURSOME OF ROSS, RACHEL, MONICA, AND JOEY, WITH PHOEBE AND CHANDLER AS SUPPORTING CHARACTERS? Kauffman That was very initially. When we first wrote the pilot, it was six of them, but we imagined Phoebe and Chandler to provide jokes more than depth or heart. Crane And then once we had those actors, everything changed. There were some differences before there were any actors involved. Monica and Ross were much more blue collar. Kauffman She had a big ol’ crush on Joey. Crane Monica and Joey we saw as the central love relationship. And she was much more tough and defended, a kind of Janeane Garofalo prototype. Kauffman And Joey didn’t have the heart that the character has, and so much of that was Matt LeBlanc and all the heart that he brings to it. Crane So much comedy has come out of Joey being a little dim. And that wasn’t there originally. I don’t want to say that comes from Matt because Matt is anything but.

EW: DID YOU SET OUT TO MAKE A DIFFERENT STYLE OF SITCOM? AND, BY THE WAY, DIDN’T THE NETWORK HATE THE COUCHES AT FIRST? Bright Well, there was a thing about the coffee shop. It was before Starbucks had really hit and they wanted us to change the coffee shop into more of a diner — more like what you saw on Seinfeld. Crane It came down to ”Do the couches have to be so ratty?” It’s like getting notes from your aunt: ”I don’t know, it doesn’t look clean.” Bright We didn’t want the typical neutral-color-value set that every other sitcom had. The apartment was purple and you actually saw color on color television in a sitcom. And Marta and David’s whole style of very short, fast-paced scenes spoke to the style in which the show was shot and edited. Everything was just trying to keep up with the pace of that writing and make it snap and pop. Kauffman The word I remember using in the pilot pitch was that we wanted it to be overcaffeinated. I don’t know that we set out to set any trends, but we did set out to do something that we would watch that we hadn’t seen before. Bright The trends came later. I mean, Jennifer’s hair wasn’t something… Kauffman It wasn’t a conscious decision on anybody’s part.

Friends
Friends
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