PERFORMING ARTS

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

Dutton. Sept. 2019. 352p. notes. ISBN 9781524743352. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781524743376. TV
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Though the final episode of Friends was broadcast in 2004, between syndication and streaming the hit sitcom has never stopped airing. Viewers too young to remember Must See TV are now devoted Friends watchers via Netflix, which has reportedly paid $100 million to keep the program available through 2019. Austerlitz (writing & comedy history, New York Univ.; Just a Shot Away) describes how Marta Kauffman and David Crane pitched a show about a group of emerging adults just as NBC executive Warren Littlefield sought to capture the youth market. Guiding readers through Hollywood politics, notes from the network, and a complicated casting process, the author documents the creation of the legendary television show. He demonstrates not only how the cast achieved movie star levels of celebrity but also how fame extended to the series’s costume designer and actress Jennifer Aniston’s hair stylist, with viewers seeking to resemble the characters they loved. Austerlitz also goes behind the scenes, detailing overnight writing sessions, contract negotiations, and disagreements with directors.
VERDICT Necessarily covering the same ground as Kelsey Miller in her best-selling I’ll Be There for You, the author approaches Friends as a pop culture historian, incorporating his recent interviews with the show’s creators in this workmanlike effort. For followers of the program and lovers of pop culture.

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