Our dearly beloved Friends departed from our screens more than a decade ago in 2004, but this show will forever be in our hearts. The controversy and curiosity surrounding their crazy salaries is still fuel for questioning and comment. The cast of Friends famously banded together and negotiated their record breaking salaries making them the highest paid sitcom stars on television in 2002.
It is widely known that each cast member was paid a staggering $1 million each per episode. This hard working cast was the first for a sitcom to be granted such a huge salary, and surprisingly the co-creator of the show only now has come forward to reveal her thoughts on the whole thing.
The pay check queries are always on the tips of the tongues of those interviewing the cast
Earlier this year Matt LeBlanc a.k.a. Joey told Huffington Post how he feels about the controversy.
"I've been asked this question before, but phrased as, do I think we were worth it? Were we worth $1 million? To me, that's such a strange question. It's like, well, that's irrelevant. Are you worth it? How do you put a price on how funny something is? We were in a position to get it. If you're in a position in any job, no matter what the job is -- if you're driving a milk truck or installing TVs or an upholsterer for a couch -- if you're in a position to get a raise and you don't get it, you're stupid. You know what I mean? We were in a position and we were able to pull it off. "Worth it" has nothing to do with it."
He really does have a fair point. With 236 episodes in total, you can't deny that this cast really worked hard for their pay checks!
Lisa Kudrow a.k.a. Phoebe openly shared her thoughts on the pay-check with Huffington Post:
"The rationale is that the show is actually generating an enormous amount of money, and ... it's affordable. It's affordable to whatever entity has to pay it. The actors are basically freelance and you never know when your time is up so it's important to get as much compensation as possible while you're in the spotlight."
Surprisingly, the co-creator of friends Marta Kauffman is not on the same page as the cast
Marta was at a press tour in Beverly Hills with the Netflix panel for Grace and Frankie when they discussed how streaming services refuse to release viewership numbers, which consequently affects contract negotiations. She was asked to compare the situation with Friends and interestingly had this to say:
"A million dollars an episode, let’s be honest, that’s kinda ridiculous, That’s a lot of money. It’s inflated. And there’s something unrealistic about it … If someday the cast says, ‘we’re worth more than you’re offering,’ then we’ll deal with it then. At this point, everybody’s in and everybody’s in wholeheartedly."
Marta believes that shorter Netflix-style seaons are keeping salaries from inflating, which is ultimately a better way forward
"When an actor is doing 13 episodes, they have many weeks left that they can pursue movies and theater and other stuff. So I think that really helps people not feel like they have to get a car every time they do an episode."
Oh no she didn't!
The facts really speak for themselves, at one time Friends was reportedly getting an incredible 25 million viewers per episode. These guys did work really hard and were our long-term on screen friends for 10 years. But, the idea of $1 million each per episode is mind-blowing, especially as the actors are probably still earning money from the show!
They set the bar high for future sitcom salary demands to come. Here are 3 of the highest paid sitcom stars:
1. Charlie Sheen was paid $1.8 million for each episode of Two and A Half Men
2. The Big Bang Theory
In a scenario very similar to that of Friends, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco of the The Big Bang Theory collectively agreed to be paid $1 million per episode, giving them an entirely sweet pay raise from the previous $350,000 per episode.
3. Everybody Loves Raymond
The star of the show, Ray Romano, earned $1.7 million per episode, I guess everybody really does love Raymond!
The Friends cast made history for themselves and for future casts to come. Although it may seem like a ludicrous amount of money, I think that they earned it!