Friendsthe ’90s sitcom, continues to have a huge group of loyal fans to this day. Thanks to the move to streaming platforms, many have had the opportunity to catch up on (or rewatch) the show that set the standard and inspired dozens of comedies that came later. The fun adventures of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey have not aged at all and continue to bring smiles to audiences. The great success of Friends lies in the talent of the leading actors and in their great harmony both on and off the set. However, according to some, not all the performers on the sitcom were equally brilliant and funny. A director, who directed fifteen episodes of the show, demolished one of the actresses of the TV series.
According to James Burrows, Helen Baxendale, who in Friends she played Emily, she wasn’t funny at all.
The actress participated in two seasons of the sitcom playing the role of one of Ross Geller’s wives. Her character did not meet the fans’ favor at all, since viewers considered her an annoying obstacle to the happy ending between Ross and Rachel. According to one of the directors of Friendsif Emily didn’t win fans’ hearts, it was because she wasn’t as funny as Rachel. In your new book, in which you look back on your television career, James Burrows he recalled that while filming an episode of the series he realized that Helen Baxendale didn’t work at all as David Schwimmer’s comic sidekick. She writes in a passage from his memoir entitled Directed by James Burrows: Five Decades of Stories from the Legendary Director of Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Will & Grace, and More:
“She was a kind woman, but not particularly funny. David Schwimmer had no one to argue with. It was like seeing him clap with one hand“.
In the book he also reveals some background information on the production of a TV series and the casting processes. According to James Burrows, the fast pace imposed by the network does not allow you to choose the most suitable interpreter for a role. For the same reasons the production team is not always able to replace an actor, should they discover that he is not adequate. In one passage he says:
“In sitcoms and any type of romantic comedy, fun is just as important as the chemistry between the actors. We found that any new girl for Ross had to be as fun as Rachel. It is often not possible to recast due to looming filming deadlines or other logistical issues. You don’t choose any puppets unless it’s for an episode. You need someone who makes you laugh. Sometimes you start a story arc and it doesn’t work, so you have to get rid of it. The opposite is also true: if there’s chemistry with a character, the writers go to work to find a way to make the actor stick around“.