There’s a reason Monica’s apartment was painted purple.
It's been almost two decades since Friends ended its original run on NBC, but even years after the show premiered, its popularity hasn't waned in the slightest — if anything, it’s grown in terms of generational and international reach. And fans of the show love re-watching episodes, debating whether Ross and Rachel were really on a break, and discussing which supporting character was the best. Many Friends fans think they know everything possible about the show, but as it turns out, there are probably a few secrets about Friends that even the most hardcore fans never knew.
After spending 10 seasons with the Friends gang, viewers are familiar with Monica's massive (and unrealistic) apartment in Greenwich Village. The two-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment was basically the site of everything in the show — other than the Central Perk coffee shop, of course — so it seems like fans know everything they need to know about Monica's apartment, right? Wrong. In a video interview with Great Big Story, set designer John Shaffner set the record straight about the apartment that he created and answered fans' longstanding questions about the Friends set. No matter how obsessed you are with Friends, these set secrets are guaranteed to blow your mind in all the right ways. Prepare for a re-watch, Friends fans.
There’s A Reason Monica's Apartment Was Purple
Even things as banal as apartment wall colors make a big difference in Hollywood, and Monica’s iconic apartment was painted purple for a very specific reason. Shaffner recalled creating a white model of the Friends set and discussing it with NBC execs. "I presented a white model, and the producers looked at it and said, 'Well, now what are we going to do about color?'" Shaffner told Great Big Story. "And I said, 'I think we should paint the set purple,' which everyone was really anxious about, until I painted the model purple.” Shaffner explained that the color purple helped "establish the show's identity" by setting it apart from other shows, which encouraged viewers to "stay tuned" instead of changing the channel.
Monica's Hallway Door Was A Door To Nowhere
As it turns out, the door in the hallway was put in years before Monica's "messy closet" story line. According to Shaffner, the set design team included a random door in Monica's hallway from the beginning, but they "really didn't say where it went to." Shaffner explained, "I said, 'Why don't we just wait and see where the stories take us,'" and in Season 6, the door finally payed off in the episode "The One with the Secret Closet." The lesson here? Sometimes, adding in details for no reason leads to a hilarious story line.
Central Perk Was A Rachel Plot Device
Any anyone who's seen Friends knows, the pilot really gets going when Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) runs into the Central Perk coffee shop in a wedding dress and meets the five friends. The truth is, the coffee shop location was actually designed just to shift focus to Rachel in the pilot. Shaffner explains that they "made a decision to put the doors up here on a diagonal," in order to show Rachel walking "through those doors and straight to the camera." Because of the door placement, "everybody had to physically turn and look" at Rachel, making her the focus of the scene — and the next 10 seasons.
Monica & Rachel’s Fridge Was Fully Functioning
Everyone knows that most props in movies and shows aren’t real. A few are, but a lot of things are just made to look like they’re real. That isn’t the case for the fridge inside of Monica and Rachel’s apartment, though. On the contrary, it was fully functional, according to ScreenRant. Not only that, but it was frequently stocked with water bottles and other drinks for the cast and crew.
Cliffhanger Scenes Weren’t Filmed In Front Of A Live Audience
The Friends set designer isn't the only one telling fans the show's secrets. In the 2004 special Friends: Final Thoughts, Aniston revealed that the bulk of the show was filmed in front of a live audience, but certain scenes were kept under wraps to prevent spoilers (even in a pre-Twitter age, spoilers were still a major issue). Which scenes, specifically? In the Season 4 finale, "The One With Ross' Wedding," Ross accidentally says Rachel's name when he's about to marry Emily, a moment Aniston explained was definitely too big a secret to share with the audience. "We couldn’t have an audience for that. We always remove the audience for the cliffhangers because, obvious reasons, you don’t want to spoil it," she said.
The Orange Sofa Came From The Warner Bros. Studio Basement
Plenty of the components of set design are incredibly purposeful and require a lot of thought and research, but sometimes the best things are accidents. According to Cosmopolitan, the famous Friends sofa was actually a Warner Bros. reject. Apparently, producers found the couch in the basement of the studio and decided to repurpose it in Central Perk.
Gunther Never Made A Single Coffee On Set
James Michael Tyler played Central Perk barista Gunther for 10 seasons, but never once did he actually make coffee on the set. In 2014, he told BuzzFeed News that even though the coffee machine was real, he never got to use his barista skills (he was working as a barista IRL when he was cast on Friends). "The espresso machine wasn't plugged in because they can be kind of loud, but that was a real antique coffee machine. I never actually made one coffee!" he said.
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