It’s hard to picture anyone but Jennifer Aniston playing Rachel Green on the classic TV show Friends, but as it turns out, the character was almost written out of the show.
Entertainment Weekly recently obtained an exclusive excerpt from Saul Austerlitz’s new book Generation Friends (hits bookshelves September 17), which dives into several behind-the-scenes secrets about the popular NBC sitcom. For example, Aniston was almost written out of the series due to a scheduling conflict in season one.
You see, when the actress auditioned for Friends in 1994, she had already shot several episodes of Muddling Through, an unaired CBS comedy. If the network picked up the project, NBC knew that it would lose Aniston halfway through the first season of Friends.
The problem? Muddling Through wasn’t expected to perform all that well, especially since CBS scheduled the show for Saturday nights during the summer. (Basically, when no one is watching TV.)
With this in mind, NBC executive Warren Littlefield decided to “kill” Muddling Through by low-key impacting its ratings. To do this, the network scheduled a series of blockbuster TV movies during the same time slot, ultimately stealing the show’s potential audience (and Rachel Green).
Friends originally premiered in 1994 and ran for ten successful seasons until airing its final episode in 2004. It follows a group of six close-knit friends: Rachel (Aniston), Monica (Courteney Cox), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Ross (David Schwimmer), Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Joey (Matt LeBlanc).
To think the Rachel Green haircut almost didn’t exist… Way to go, NBC.