Former “Friends” writer Patty Lin detailed her less-than-pleasant experience working on the hit show in her new memoir “End Credits: How I Broke Up with Hollywood.”
In excerpt from the book, via Time, Lin recalled initially having reservations about joining the “Friends” writing staff during Season 7 because she was relatively new to the business and her background was in drama instead of comedy. However, she noted that she would have been a “fool to pass up the chance” as the series was a “juggernaut” at the time.
One of the reasons that Lin cited for her dissatisfaction with the job was her perception that the actors’ hearts were no longer in the show. “Friends,” which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004 on NBC, starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry.
“My disillusionment had begun at my very first writing job but was momentarily staved off by a positive experience at ‘Freaks and Geeks.’ Then came ‘Friends,’” Lin, who retired from television writing at age 38, wrote.
The former writer recalled that she had been looking forward to joining the actors for table reads of the scripts, but her enthusiasm quickly waned.
“At first, I was excited about table reads because I got to be in the same room as the cast, who were Big Stars,” Lin wrote. “Plus, there was a catered breakfast buffet: fluffy scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, pancakes, waffles, pastries of all kinds. On the way to the table reads, I would start salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs.”
She continued, “But the novelty of seeing Big Stars up close wore off fast, along with my zeal about breakfast.”
“The actors seemed unhappy to be chained to a tired old show when they could be branching out, and I felt like they were constantly wondering how every given script would specifically serve them.”
Lin claimed that the show’s stars appeared to intentionally sabotage jokes during the table reads if they disliked them.
“They all knew how to get a laugh, but if they didn’t like a joke, they seemed to deliberately tank it, knowing we’d rewrite it,” Lin wrote.
She continued, “Dozens of good jokes would get thrown out just because one of them had mumbled the line through a mouthful of bacon.”
“[‘Friends’ creators] David [Krane] and Marta [Kauffman] never said, ‘This joke is funny. The actor just needs to sell it.’”
Lin recounted how after the first rewrites were completed, the cast and crew would hold a run-through on set, during which the actors would weigh in on the scripts.
“Everyone would sit around Monica and Chandler’s apartment and discuss the script,” Lin remembered.
She continued, “This was the actors’ first opportunity to voice their opinions, which they did vociferously. They rarely had anything positive to say, and when they brought up problems, they didn’t suggest feasible solutions.”
“Seeing themselves as guardians of their characters, they often argued that they would never do or say such-and-such. That was occasionally helpful, but overall, these sessions had a dire, aggressive quality that lacked all the levity you’d expect from the making of a sitcom.”
In addition to what Lin saw as the cast’s discontent with the show, she also cited a number of other reasons why working on the show was “not a dream.”
She wrote that the “Friends” writing staff was “cliquey” and admitted that she “felt like an outsider.” Lin recalled that writing sessions required extremely long hours and were often awkward.
“In theory, ‘breaking’ stories on ‘Friends’—plotting out an episode’s scenes—should’ve gone faster than on dramas, since sitcoms are only half as long and have fewer story beats,” Lin explained.
“Even so, there was a lot of sitting around the table in silence.,” she added. “Trust me, any show that makes it to season 7 is hurting for ideas.”
“Much of the time, the writers’ room was like an endless cocktail party where we had run out of polite things to talk about. And so we talked about sex. Constantly.”
Lin admitted that she often felt like she had “impostor syndrome” since she wasn’t a comedy writer and recounted instances in which her ideas were not well-received. She wrote that she was “scared” of both Crane and Kauffman for “different reasons.”
Ultimately, Lin left the writing staff of “Friends” after just one season when her option wasn’t picked up, which she wrote was a “euphemism” for being “fired.” Lin remembered being told by her agent that the creators wanted a “joke writer.”
“Thinking of all those times I felt invisible in the huddle, I was mortified and indignant,” she wrote.
“I was also a little bit relieved.”
After “Friends,” Lin worked on the writing staffs for other shows including “Desperate Housewives” and “Breaking Bad” before quitting the business.
Looking back at her time on “Friends,” Lin wrote that she “didn’t learn that much, except that I never wanted to work on a sitcom again.”
“But the choice had been clear at the time,” she added. “And, for better or worse, ‘Friends’ would remain my most recognizable credit.
Fox News Digital has reached out to NBC for comment.
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