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The first season of Friends, an American situation comedy created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, premiered on NBC (National Broadcasting Company) on September 22, 1994. Friends was produced by Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television. The season contains 24 episodes and concluded airing on May 18, 1995.
The first season introduces the six main characters: Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross. Rachel arrives in New York after leaving her fiancé at the altar, and begins living with Monica in her apartment. Ross continually attempts to tell Rachel that he loves her, while his lesbian former wife, Carol, is pregnant with his baby. Joey is shown to be a struggling actor, while Phoebe works as a masseuse. Chandler breaks up with girlfriend Janice (Maggie Wheeler), who frequently returns in later seasons. At the end of the season, Chandler accidentally reveals that Ross loves Rachel, who finds that she feels the same way.
Courteney Cox was the best-known cast member during casting.
David Schwimmer was first actor to be cast. He was in Chicago doing a stage adaptation of The Master and Margarita when his agent offered him the audition. He was not interested in doing television after a bad experience appearing in Monty, but changed his mind when he learned that it was an ensemble script. Unknown to him, Crane and Kauffman had remembered him from when he auditioned for an earlier pilot of theirs; they had written the part of Ross with Schwimmer in mind to play him. Crane and Kauffman wanted Joey to be "a guy's guy" who loves "women, sports, women, New York, women". Matt LeBlanc was given the part after he auditioned using the "grab a spoon" scene. As the Joey character was not developed much in the script, LeBlanc used his experience playing "this Italian, kind of dim character" from Vinny and Bobby.
Courteney Cox was the most well-known of the six main actors. She was called in expecting to read for the part of Rachel. After reading for Monica instead, she won the role. Nancy McKeon also read for the part. Jennifer Aniston read for the part of Rachel after initially being considered for Monica. Her commitment as an actress on the television series Muddling Through left her part in Friends in doubt; Muddling Through was not scheduled to be broadcast by CBS until mid-1994, after NBC's announcement of whether Friends would be greenlit for a series. If Muddling Through became a ratings success, the role of Rachel would have needed recasting, as the producer of Muddling Through would not allow Aniston to be released from her contract. A deal was eventually struck and, within three days of first auditioning, Aniston got the role.
Chandler and Phoebe had originally been written as more secondary characters who were just there to provide humor around the other four. They had become part of the core group by the time casting concluded. Matthew Perry had previously worked with Kauffman and Crane on an episode of Dream On, and requested an audition when he identified with the character. He was turned down at first, but was granted an audition after his new television series LAX 2194 was not picked up by a network. Lisa Kudrow won the role of Pheobe because the producers liked her as Ursula, the waitress in Mad About You.[b] She was second to be cast, though there was about a month between her and Schwimmer being signed on. Many of the actors seen at the auditions were "too theatrical" in performing comedy; Crane described the six successful actors as being the only ones who "nailed" their parts. The six actors met for the first time altogether at the read-through on April 28, 1994.