I want you to think about all of your fondest memories of Friends. Chances are you could do this all day, coming up with things like Chick and Duck, unagi, Smelly Cat, "I got off the plane," etc. etc. etc. for all eternity.
But one aspect of the show has had hardcore fans talking since it first aired. It's a minor detail, really, but was featured in nearly every single episode of the show (Ross' convention being the exceptions) and is, according to one of Hollywood's most prolific set designers, absolutely critical to the show's success: The purple walls.
John Shaffner was the production designer for Friends, and he's won multiple Emmys for his work on shows like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. He recently did an interview about his super interesting job, and the long-standing fan question about Monica's apartment walls was finally brought to the man who made that decision.
"When we were presenting Friends, I presented a white [miniature model of the apartment]," says Shaffner. "And the producer looked at it and said, 'Well, now, what are we gonna do about color?' and I said, 'I think we should paint the set purple.'"
Talk about your all-time bold calls. "Everybody was really anxious about it," admits Shaffner, "until I painted the little model purple." But the color was quickly approved, and became an iconic part of the 10-season show.
But the really interesting part is how the way a set is presented locks you in subliminally. "Color is really important in terms of establishing the show identity," according to Shaffner. "When you switched to Friends, you saw that it was purple, and you stayed tuned."
Huh. We never thought of that before, but it makes total sense.
He also drops one other fun behind-the-scenes tidbit of the show, something else that fans at the time noticed and was actually addressed with its own full episode. "One of the responsibilities of a production designer is to look into the future, if you can. We put a door all the way up [Monica's] hallway and we didn't really say where it went to," shares Shaffner. "I said, 'Why don't we just wait and see where the stories take us. So all of a sudden, years into the show, we've never seen this door opened. They do an entire episode about: This was Monica's messy closet."
And now your knowledge of Friends trivia is a little broader than it was yesterday. You're welcome.