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Jennifer Aniston Was Almost Written Out Of Friends In Season 1
2023/08/21

The hit '90s sitcom Friends is considered one of the most impactful TV shows of all time. However, one of the show's leading stars almost didn't make it past Season 1. In the book Generation Friendsby Saul Austerlitz, which takes an "inside look at the show that defined a television era," it is revealed that at the time of Friends' debut in 1994, Jennifer Aniston (aka Rachel Green) had also filmed another sitcom, Muddling Through, in which she played the protagonist's daughter, Madeline.

The short-lived sitcom, which centered on a waitress attempting to start over after serving jail time, had been picked up by CBS and aired for six episodes when an NBC entertainment boss demanded the show be "killed" to ensure Aniston's future on Friends.

"When we picked up Friends, Jennifer Anistonwas in second position. She was on a CBS comedy, Muddling Through, and they had six episodes of it," Preston Beckman, the former head of scheduling at NBC, told The Hollywood Reporter. "We heard that they were putting the show on Saturday nights while we were in a current meeting. I remember [NBC entertainment chief] Warren Littlefieldturns to me and said, 'Kill it!' So I did."

In a separate interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the executive producer and director of Friends, Kevin Bright, revealed that if Muddling Through had been picked up for an entire first season by CBS, they would have had to reshoot the pilot and recast the role of Rachel Green.

"We didn't have a backup. There wasn't a second Rachel. There wasn't a second Chandler. There wasn't a second Ross or Phoebe. We didn't go in with anybody else," he explained.

Speaking on the Max 2021 special Friends: The Reunion, Aniston also disclosed that following her first table read with the cast of Muddling Through, she knew she didn't belong on the show.

"Tail between my legs, hat in hand, I went to the producer of the show I was on ... and said, 'Please, release me from the show. I love the show I'm doing right now [Friends]. Nothing against your show, I just love these people and I'm having so much fun,'" Aniston recalled, revealing that one of the show's producers then responded: "I saw that show, and let me tell you something, that show is not going to make you a star."

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