‘Friends’ Executives Struggled To Choose Right Name For Hit 1994 Show

Writers wanted to call sitcom ‘Insomnia Cafe.’

“During the pilot season of 1994, a revolutionary idea is born out of NBC: a television show that focuses on the young, 20-something experience,” says Natalie Morales in REELZ’s new docuseries, Friends: Behind Closed Doors.

As RadarOnline.com readers know, the popular 1990s sitcom remains one of the most watched shows on TV, and the actors that played everyone’s favorite onscreen friends, remain true pals until this day.

“The concept of Friends is almost shockingly low-concept. It is about a group of friends, you know? They don’t fight crime, they don’t solve mysteries, they don’t do anything! They just kind of sit around, finding their way in the world,” says People Magazine’s Kate Coyne.

Variety’s Danielle Turchiano explains why the show had immediate success and why it remains timeless.

“The primary focus for a lot of networks was looking at family sitcoms, looking at a nuclear family, and this really gave an alternate version. It was still a family, but it was friends who created a family with each other, and that was kind of a void, I think at the time, that Friends really filled,” she says.

“It really was one of the first shows where this is a chosen group of people, this was the family. You love your own blood family, hopefully, but those who you choose to hang out with, those are your real family, and that… I think many people relate to that and wish for that,” says Jane Sibbett, who played “Carol” in the series.

‘Friends’ Executives Struggled To Choose A Name For The Hit Show
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NBC execs were instantly enthralled by the idea of the show.

“We just kind of jumped up in the air and said ‘This is great, we love it. Let’s do this!’” recalls Warren Littlefield, the former president of NBC Entertainment.

The one change producers insisted on was the name, which New York writers Marta Kauffman and David Crane initially pitched as Insomnia Café.

“They went through all these different title changes,” recalls, Kelsey Miller, author of I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends.

First, it was called Six of One, then Across The Hall, then Friends Like Us, until ultimately producers landed on just Friends.

The show starred Jennifer Aniston as “Rachel,” Courtney Cox as “Monica,” Lisa Kudrow as “Phoebe,” Matthew Perry as “Chandler,” Matt LeBlanc as “Joey,” and David Schwimmer as “Ross.”

Thanks to their many years acting together, the group remains close. Aniston and Cox are often spotted on trips and dinner outings together, and though Perry has struggled with various substance abuse issues and ailments since his heyday, pals still have his back.

Friends: Behind Closed Doors airs Sunday April 28 at 9 ET / PT on REELZ.

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