‘Friends’ Super Bowl Episode Was a Game Changer for the Show

The Huge Image

  • “The One After the Tremendous Bowl” was
    ‘ most-watched episode, with 52.9 million viewers, beating the sequence finale.
  • The present was overexposed in 1996, drawing criticism and backlash from audiences.
  • Pals
    corrected its course by limiting celeb appearances and specializing in the core pal group in later seasons.

Twenty years after the sequence finale bid a ultimate “I’ll be there for you,” there was no love misplaced for Friends. New and outdated followers know the best second when to clap in the course of the opening credit, they’ve their favourite traces and episodes, however there was a time when the sitcom began to lose steam with viewers. It had nothing to do with some of the more problematic elements of the series. Season 2 of Pals was a pivotal time for the sitcom. After coming off a well-liked first season, the sequence obtained a significant alternative when the creators agreed to make an hour-long particular to air within the post-Super Bowl spot. However whereas many individuals tuned in, the episode itself and different elements led to the present feeling prefer it was overexposed, and it wanted to course-correct if it needed to proceed.


Ross Geller, Rachel Inexperienced, Monica Geller, Joey Tribbiani, Chandler Bing, and Phoebe Buffay are six twenty-somethings residing in New York Metropolis. Over the course of 10 years and seasons, these mates undergo life classes, household, love, drama, friendship, and comedy.

Launch Date
September 22, 1994

Predominant Style



“The One After the Tremendous Bowl” Wasn’t a Typical ‘Pals’ Episode

The sitcom was about to enter the peak-Pals period, with memorable visitor stars, storylines, and beloved episodes. Within the two-parter, “The One After the Superbowl,” Ross tries to relocate a lacking Marcel, the monkey he gave away to a San Diego zoo. Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) meets Rob (Chris Isaak), who needs her to sing at a library’s live performance for kids, not realizing “Smelly Cat” might be Phoebe’s only age-appropriate song. Joey (Matt LeBlanc) makes one other unhealthy relationship name by assembly Erika (Brooke Shields), a fan obsessed along with his present cleaning soap opera position, unable to separate actuality from fiction. Ross’ seek for Marcel leads him to the film set of Outbreak 2, the place Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Monica (Courteney Cox) compete with one another for the affections of Jean-Claude Van Damme. In the meantime, sparks fly between Chandler (Perry) and ex-classmate Susie (Julia Roberts).

The episode is stacked with famous guest stars, which might really feel like stunt casting, as a result of that was exactly the purpose. NBC needed the Pals showrunners to make the 2 episodes right into a “must-see TV” occasion. From The Hollywood Reporter’s oral history of the episode, there have been highs and lows in creating the tales for the supersized forged. Brooke Shields is a standout as Joey’s obsessed, cackling fan. The surprising humorous facet to the actress even led to her getting the main role of Suddenly Susan, a sitcom that lasted 4 years. On the flip facet, Fred Willard and Dan Castellaneta are among the worst zoo employees in the principle plot that wraps up the Ross-Marcel storyline, a plot that David Schwimmer has publicly revealed he disliked tremendously. On high of all of that, the forged and crew didn’t have many positive memories of Jean-Claude Van Damme.

The ‘Pals’ Collection Finale Rankings Had been Low In comparison with This Episode

Brooke Shields as one of the big guest stars on
Picture through NBC

From the interviews in The Hollywood Reporter’s oral historical past, NBC didn’t have luck giving the spot to new exhibits in earlier years, the place they hoped the excessive rankings in viewership would observe the brand new present after the Tremendous Bowl. In a uncommon transfer, the community selected a brand new method with Superbowl XXX. As an alternative of offering the coveted airtime to a pilot that audiences weren’t going to maintain watching, it gave the time slot over to Pals, an already well-known sitcom. NBC needed to make this system one in every of its highest-ranking in viewership and the Pals showrunners needed to maintain the momentum the sitcom had from Season 1, so that they gladly accepted the prospect to make some historical past.

The go-big-or-go-home method to “The One After the Superbowl” labored. It grew to become the sequence’ most-watched episode with a staggering 52.9 million viewers in 1996, an unbeatable, record-breaker for the sitcom, even in comparison with the sequence finale in 2004, the place 52.5 million folks watched. It’s a detailed quantity, but it surely’s proof of the ability of the post-Tremendous Bowl slot. Nonetheless, not everybody was a fan of the splashy two-parter. And whereas the sitcom was buzzworthy, a few of that buzz was coming from the incorrect place.

The extreme variety of celebrities wasn’t what a typical Pals episode was identified for. For instance, one of many sitcom’s greatest episodes took the less complicated method of a bottle episode, sticking the six mates in Monica’s residence and having them argue over who will dress and be prepared first for an occasion. The post-Tremendous Bowl two-parter was undoubtedly not that easy. Just a few weeks after “The One With the Superbowl,” a February 1996 Newsweek article criticized the overexposure of the sitcom. Pals was turning right into a spectacle, however what made it worse was the sequence of Food plan Coke advertisements that have been on TV, main as much as the particular, celeb-heavy episode. Whereas the Super Bowl has always been known for its elaborate ads, the mix of convoluted Food plan Coke advertisements and stunt casting within the two-parter episode was simply an excessive amount of.

The danger of burnout was actual and creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane seemed again on this era with remorse. In an interview with Television Academy, Crane mentioned:

“As we have been getting nearer to doing it, it was trying shittier. And it turned out to be not only a industrial, however a contest. It was simply not good and we have been in too deep. And there was a giant backlash — ‘Listed here are the
promoting out.’”

The in-your-face paid promoting did not do a lot to assist the sitcom in its sophomore 12 months. Going ahead, Crane and Kauffman made it identified that they’d restrict the celebs that did present up. At this time, the sequence is remembered for its intelligent use of visitor stars and cameos, however it might by no means really feel prefer it did in “The One After the Superbowl.”

‘Pals’ Season 2 Had Memorable Characters and Episodes

Courteney Cox and Tom Selleck on Friends.
Picture through NBC

After, the present tried to steadiness the big-name visitor stars whereas at all times sustaining a give attention to what made the sequence a hit and particular within the first place: the pal group. Though the response to the Tremendous Bowl episode was blended, the present wasn’t about to vanish. The episode that adopted up on “Superbowl,” was the enduring “The One With the Prom Video,” the place the present lastly made Ross and Rachel a pair — for a while, no less than. The remainder of Season 2 featured a storyline that includes Chandler and his unusual and erratic new roommate Eddie (Adam Goldberg), and it additionally launched us to Richard (Tom Selleck), who became an important character in Monica’s life. It was clear that the sequence had discovered its lesson from the Tremendous Bowl episode.


‘Friends’ Most Bizarre Episode Has a Deeper Meaning

‘Pals’ consists of Phoebe being possessed by an outdated girl and a groundbreaking instance of homosexual illustration all in a single episode.

‘Pals’ Corrected Itself Going Ahead

Season 3 and onward would hold bringing in relationships, characters, and storylines that followers of Pals love and nonetheless discuss to this present day. Ross and Rachel tried to figure out what “being on a break” meant. Phoebe helpedpher brother begin a household by being a surrogate for his baby. Ross meets Emily (Helen Baxendale), which provides extra issues to the Ross and Rachel relationship. Pals grew after the Tremendous Bowl episodes and the sequence would finally flip right into a present that will acquire viewers lengthy after the present left the air by means of TV reruns and streaming companies.

“The One After the Superbowl” was proof of how large the present was on the time. However the episode’s missteps additionally might have stifled the present’s reputation earlier than it reached its full potential. It was a useful reminder for the creators and forged on the right way to keep true to what folks cherished in regards to the present and, in the end, a real recreation changer episode for the sequence.

All episodes of Pals is streaming on Max within the U.S.

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