It's been 18 years since Monica Gellar and Chandler Bing said "I do" on "Friends," which celebrated its 25th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 22. And although the longtime pals' romantic subplot was widely praised by fans, Monica and Chandler's relationship "began as a whim," according to a new book about the show.
Author Saul Austerlitz writes in "Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era" that "Friends" writers were dubious when it was suggested that Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry's characters fall for one another.
"When the second season was being planned, one of the writers tossed out an idea," Austerlitz writes (via People), "'What if we get Chandler and Monica together?'"
He says the notion "was intended less as a permanent shift in the gravity of the series and more as a fun plotline, good for a few episodes before the status quo snapped back into place."
It was not exactly well received in the writers' room, either. According to Austerlitz, one writer called the idea "a little desperate," and it was decided they move on, initially.
Then, a couple of seasons later, the writers were planning a scene in which Monica gets drunk while the group is in London for Ross' wedding. She's feeling full of self-doubt when she shows up in Chandler's room and stuns him by kissing him.
The scene was meant to be humorous — but even that approach was iffy for the writers.
"There was a fear … that bringing Chandler and Monica together would be perceived as near-incestuous," Austerlitz writes.
Instead, the studio audience made it quite clear they were all about the plot twist.
"The cheers and hoots of delight went on and on, drowning out the performers and shaking the room," Austerlitz writes.
The two hooked up again … and again. Finally, they went back to New York City and continued seeing each other on the sly.
Executive producer Scott Silveri told Vulture in 2013 that the studio reaction to the pair's first hookup was so "intense," he stopped watching the monitors and instead watched the audience.
"I don't think anybody balked too much at them hooking up. That felt natural. The fallout came in the following year, when it became a relationship," Silveri told Vulture. Eventually, though, fans came to appreciate the romance.
Perhaps not as much as Silveri, though.
"If you didn't have a Monica-and-Chandler relationship," he said, "if the center of 'Friends' had remained Ross and Rachel, you would've seen a much shorter shelf life for the show."
He added: "Without Monica and Chandler, it ends three years earlier. I don't owe my whole house to them, but at least two bedrooms and a bath are because of them."