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“The one with the reunion” – Analysing reactions to Friends: The Reunion

There’s been a whole lot of buzz around Friends: The Reunion. Ever since HBO Max confirmed that the show was going ahead, fans have eagerly anticipated May 27 – the day that Joey, Rachel, Monica, Ross, Phoebe and Chandler would grace our screens once again.

But after the trailer aired last week, people took to Twitter to express their thoughts. So we analysed them. We wanted to understand how people’s feelings towards the reunion have changed over time, digging deeper into social insights and uncovering how audiences across the world are reacting to the premiere of Friends: The Reunion.

Using Relative Insight’s text analysis software, we analysed tweets mentioning Friends: The Reunion comparing three different time periods: the week after HBO’s initial announcement (February 21 2020), the week after the trailer was released (May 20 2021) and the day of the premiere (May 27 2021). Our technology highlights the topics, words, phrases, grammar and emotion unique to one data set over another. Time-based comparisons allow us to see how an audience’s mindset evolves over a certain period, and these social media insights enable us to measure the impact of trailer releases, new films, TV series or news announcements.

Reactions to the announcement

As expected, when fans discovered that the cast of Friends would be reuniting for one final episode there was an enormous amount of anticipation and enthusiasm. Twitter users were 9.3x more likely to express their excitement during this period, claiming that this was the best news ever. Fans appeared to be in nostalgic disbelief that the reunion was finally happening.

This excitement led to Twitter users guessing what the episode might include. Names of characters appeared 7.3x more in this data set, with fans discussing what they hoped the episode would entail. What exactly happened to Ross and Rachel? Would one of the Sprouse twins play Ben?

However, for those on Twitter who didn’t classify themselves as super fans, the wide-spread enthusiasm became a little annoying. Some Twitter users expressed their annoyance at the sheer amount of people sharing the reunion on their Instagram stories, as if it was unknown news. One user commented: “If I see one more post about the friends reunion, imma throw my phone in the river”.

Further to this, Twitter users also pointed out that the show might not meet the expectations of fans. After the initial announcement, a selection of people realised that the show would be an unscripted special, rather than a comedic sketch. This led to Twitter users claiming that the announcement was in fact, fake news.

Reactions to Friends: The Reunion trailer

Since the release of the Friends: The Reunion trailer, there has been a lot of perplexed users on Twitter. One thing that people aren’t too sure about is HBO’s chosen host: James Corden. Fans took to Twitter to express their discontent, claiming that Corden is the wrong host for the show and an unexpected one at that. Some even went so far as claiming that they’d not be tuning in to the reunion as a result.

Insight card showing fans unhappy with James Corden as the host of Friends: The Reunion

After watching the trailer for Friends: The Reunion, Twitter users were quick to comment on the cast looking much older. The words botox and ageing were infinitely more likely to appear in tweets around this time period. One fan even observed that: “The friends reunion is a really good example of how women are expected to age gracefully in Hollywood, but men are allowed to look like burnt baked potatoes”. The trailer evoked the sensitive and poignant fact that we are all ageing, causing viewers to feel nostalgic for their youth.  

Insight card showing Friends fans commenting on the age of the cast

Reactions to Friends: The Reunion premiere

Despite some disappointment around the elected host, today’s premiere of Friends: The Reunion is eliciting the emotional response that we anticipated. In fact, fans on Twitter are 6.5x more likely to discuss their emotions during this time period, mentioning that they are crying and sobbing while watching the episode.

The raw emotions of the show’s fanbase highlights the true legacy of Friends. Although the reunion has its controversy, the emotional reception of the episode highlights how time and time again, Friends proves to be an iconic show amongst all age groups and something which viewers have grown attached to.

Insight card showing fans are emotional

Getting the most out of your social data

Regardless of the subject matter, social media captures the organic thoughts and opinions of a huge array of audiences. However, comparison enables us to dig deeper into these audience insights and understand how conversations adapt and evolve over time. Friends is a timeless classic that has served as a companion to many of us growing up, and I for one can’t wait to watch the reunion. For UK audiences, the show will air on Sky One at 8pm this evening!

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