"Friends" Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary

Getty Images / Handout(NEW YORK) — Twenty years ago, six friends danced in a water fountain and into television history.

Friends premiered Sept. 22, 1994 on NBC, and turned Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer into major stars.

Aniston filled the role of Rachel, who abandoned her partner on her wedding day and subsequently moved in with an old friend, Monica, played by Cox.

Monica was the sister of Schwimmer’s Ross, who had a big crush on Rachel. He eventually had an on-again, off-again relationship with her that resulted in a daughter and, finally, the two of them declaring their love for one another in the last episode.

Monica and Rachel lived across the hall from Chandler, the wise-cracking character played by Perry, and LeBlanc’s Joey. Monica went on to marry Chandler, while Joey ended up as the focal point of a much-derided spin-off after Friends ended its 10-season run in 2004.

Finally, there’s Kudrow’s Phoebe, a quirky musician whose signature song was “Smelly Cat.”

When the six friends weren’t hanging out in Monica and Rachel’s apartment, they were usually at the local coffee shop, Central Perk.

Friends featured one of the most recognizable TV theme songs of the 1990s: “I’ll Be There for You,” by The Rembrandts. It was used in the show’s intro, in which the cast members splashed around in a water fountain.

Friends was remarkably successful as part of NBC’s “Must See TV” Thursday-night lineup. It earned 62 Emmy nominations, winning six times.

Many of the cast members have moved on to other TV series. Cox stars in the TBS comedy Cougar Town; Kudrow is working on a revival of her HBO comedy The Comeback; LeBlanc was a recent Emmy nominee for the Showtime series Episodes; and Perry is attached to an Odd Couple reboot.

Schwimmer’s major credit since the Friends finale is the Madagascar films. Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, Aniston has a busy movie career and is engaged to Justin Theroux.

You can still see all of them in the Friends reruns that seemingly air around the clock on various networks. In fact, TBS is airing a 20-episode marathon on Monday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET/PT to celebrate the sitcom’s anniversary.

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