Since Friends hit Netflix's streaming service on 1st January, it is estimated that approximately everyone you know has been going home to secretly binge-watch the series at the end of the workday. But, if you're one of the die-hard fans reliving the '90s every night, you may have noticed that something's a little off.
Soon after the release, viewers noticed that a handful of lines and jokes had been cut from almost every episode on Netflix. Sometimes, it's just the end of a sentence, other times it's whole minutes of dialogue between characters. For the most part, the edits lift seamlessly from the episodes, without disrupting story lines. But, for many people who grew up on the series, the missing chunks are obvious and weird.
For example, you won't find Monica's song-and-dance phone message: "A guy from Ralph Lauren called, you got a second interview." And, the scene where Ross sees Rachel naked has been edited ("I'm sorry, but Ross, you kicked off your shoes!"). Perhaps most unforgivable is the trimming of the famous leather-pants scene.
Reddit took up the cause last month, trying to figure out what exactly happened. Was Netflix airing syndicated episodes? Were these edited for time or quality? The timing issue seems unlikely, since Netflix doesn't have to deal with commercial obligations. And, as for quality? Well, if that were the case, you'd think they'd cut some of the gay jokes and open transphobia, which might have seemed socially acceptable in 1997 but come across as merely dumb and prejudiced now.
Similar complaints about editing arose in 2012, when the series was released on Blu-ray, including significantly shorter episodes than those in the original DVD set. At the time, producer/director Kevin S. Bright explained, "The deleted footage was, frankly, added specifically for one home video release... But, for this, we wanted something that we, the creators, felt represented the show as we always wanted it to be remembered, which is the original NBC broadcast versions."
A number of publications have pointed to this statement as the reasoning behind the shortened Netflix episodes — but, viewers are calling bullshit. A number of the missing lines were not specific to the DVD versions. Anyone with a decent memory who's turned on TBS reruns for background noise or re-watched episodes on a plane might notice the oddly random cuts made on the Netflix episodes.
We reached out to Netflix for comment but the mystery of the missing lines remains. If anyone has a lead, we could not BE anymore curious. (Sorry. Had to.)