Netflix may have clap-clap-clap-clapped up the megabucks needed to keep Friends available to subscribers for another year, but in the long run, it's looking likely that the beloved sitcom will be pulled from the streaming site so WarnerMedia can host the show on their own fledgling streaming service. Nothing official has been announced yet, but at this point you'd have to be at Joey Tribbiani's level of density not to see the writing on the wall.
They know that we know, too. Kevin Reilly, who is overseeing the development of WarnerMedia's platform, all but confirmed as much at the Television Critics Association winter press tour this week. "I think you can expect the crown jewels of Warner will ultimately end up on our new service," Reilly said, per Deadline. He also confirmed that the company is absolutely willing to yank its goodies from Netflix in the interest of exclusivity.
Friends fans' first instinct might be to groan at this possibility, but there may actually be a silver lining to the move — if WarnerMedia chooses to restore all those jokes that were lost in the show's migration to Netflix.
For the uninitiated, in the boxed DVD sets of Friends, a healthy number of lines and jokes that never made it to air were added to the episodes and became canon for fans who revisited their DVDs time and time again. However, those lines were ultimately omitted from the Blu-ray version released several years later, much to fans' chagrin.
When TV Guide asked co-executive producer/director Kevin S. Bright about it at the time, he recognized that the change was "frustrating" but said the goal had been to return to the classic versions of the episodes as they originally aired. The same was true when the show hit Netflix; those lines were left out, living on only as phantom memories for those who'd grown attached to the DVDs.
So, perhaps if the show does move to Warner. Bros' new service, as expected, the company could win over fans who've been missing those lines by adding them back to the episodes.
How great would it be if the pilot episode scene when Monica (Courteney Cox) is helping Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) cut up her credit cards included the bit about Rachel trying to sub in a library card instead of the real deal? And Mon's cousin Frannie really should lament her week spent pushing "Aunt Roz through Parrot Jungle." Meanwhile, seeing Ross (David Schwimmer) absolutely lose it over the possibility of adopting two cats with Julie is essential. There are a ton of tiny moments like this that almost make it worthwhile to dust off those DVDs.
Netflix's version of Friends still gives fans easy access to the Rachel Green fashion show and all of those essential Thanksgiving scenes, but if the show's next platform could merge those precious extra moments from the DVDs with the convenience of streaming, that might just prompt fans to subscribe to a new service. And for those Friends fans who haven't missed the jokes, this change would offer an all-new viewing experience, so it's a win-win, really.
Friends is available for streaming on Netflix ... for now, at least.