The One with the Rumor
|"The One with the Rumor"|
|Episode no.||Season 8
|Directed by||Gary Halvorson|
|Written by||Shana Goldberg-Meehan|
|Original air date||November 22, 2001|
"The One with the Rumor" is the ninth episode of the eighth season of the American television situation comedy Friends, which aired on NBC on November 22, 2001. It continues the series' annual Thanksgiving-themed episode tradition, and guest-stars cast member Jennifer Aniston's then-husband Brad Pitt in the uncredited role of Will Colbert, who reveals that he and Ross (David Schwimmer) were part of an "I hate Rachel" club. The two of them hated Rachel Green (Aniston) and got the exchange student from Thailand to join their club. Will revealed that they spread a rumor in high school that Rachel (Aniston) was a hermaphrodite.
The episode was directed by Gary Halvorson and written by Shana Goldberg-Meehan. It was nominated for multiple Primetime Emmy Awards, but was criticized as "insulting" by a national intersex education group. Pitt admitted his appearance was mainly to promote his upcoming film, Spy Game.
Monica (Courteney Cox) tells her friends that she will not be cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving because of the large amount of leftovers it will create. Chandler does not eat turkey as a result of his dislike of all Thanksgiving foods (a result of childhood trauma), Pheobe (Lisa Kudrow's character) is a vegetarian and Rachel was having an aversion to poultry from her pregnancy. This left only Monica, Ross and Joey to eat the enormous turkey. Joey (Matt LeBlanc) protests, and announces that he will eat the entire turkey himself if necessary. Monica agrees, and Joey finishes the nineteen-pound turkey by the end of the episode. Monica tells Rachel that she has invited over an old high-school friend of hers and Ross's called Will Colbert (Brad Pitt). Rachel does not remember him, and he reacts with total disgust when he finds out Rachel will be joining them for dinner.
Throughout dinner, Will is hostile to Rachel. Will, like Monica, has lost a great deal of weight since high school and looks great. When Will keeps ignoring her advances and is continuously hostile, he reveals that she was horrible to him in high school. Will also eventually reveals that during high school, he and Ross initiated the episode's titular rumor: that Rachel is a hermaphrodite, which was spread throughout their entire high school, and even went so far as to reach Chandler's high school. Rachel reacts tearfully, claiming she never hurt Ross in high school, until Monica reminds her that she started a rumor of her own that Ross made out with the school's 50-year-old librarian, though Ross shockingly reveals that this is in fact true, much to everyone's amusement and disgust. Monica comforts Rachel, saying that despite the rumor, she was still the most popular girl in their high school, and reminds Ross and Rachel that they are having a baby together and that some things are more important than high school. Will feels betrayed that Ross had a relationship with Rachel but then that turns to a high five when he discovers that Ross "knocked her up but did not marry her." Ultimately the characters settle their differences. The episode culminates in Joey finishing off the turkey wearing Phoebe's-turned-Rachel's maternity pants and getting the meat sweats. After being extremely full, Joey still had room for pie.
It was reported by Entertainment Weekly that Pitt would don a fat suit for flashback scenes to his fat childhood, though this was unfounded as Will's weight was merely referred to on screen. Pitt frequently visited Aniston at the studios before and after his appearance, though he did not go onto the set for fear of distracting the audience. When questioned about his appearance in the show, Pitt said it was to promote his upcoming film Spy Game, though added that he liked the series anyway. The episode was taped on November 2, following four days of rehearsals.
As the series finale drew close in 2004, Eric Deggans of St. Petersburg Times ranked Pitt as one of the worst guest stars in Friends: "Stilted reactions, overly exaggerated comedy, near-palpable self-consciousness - despite his cred as a film actor, Pitt knew he was out of his depth on a sitcom stage. After five minutes' viewing, the audience did, too." His work on set is admired by the main stars; Schwimmer recalls Pitt was "definitely [...] going against type" and LeBlanc called him "really great on the show". USA Today rates Will's line "Look at her standing there with those yams. My two greatest enemies, Ross. Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates" one of the best of the episode.
The eponymous rumor drew criticism from the intersex community, a member of which wrote a strongly worded letter of complaint to NBC, calling the episode "ignorant, insulting, degrading, and absolutely unprofessional". The member urged the network to learn about intersex individuals via the Society's website and read an on-air apology before future episodes.
Primetime Emmy Award nominations
Pitt was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his appearance in the episode. Additionally, Nick McLean was nominated for Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series, while Stephen Prime was nominated for Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Series, for their work on the episode.
- Wild, p.235
- Susman, Gary (2001-11-02). "Hello, Columbus". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- Szymanski, Mike (2007-11-23). "Brad Pitt Says His 'Friends' Appearance Promotes His Films". Zap2It.com. Retrieved 2007-08-26.[dead link]
- Wild, p.226
- Multiple authors (2001-11-28). "Truly Madly Deeply". People.com. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- Deggans, Eric (2004-05-04). "Guest stars: The good, the bad, the twin sister". St Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- Wild, p.229
- Saah, Nadia; Jayme Deerwester (2004-01-14). "Thanksgiving with 'Friends'". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- "NBC's "Friends" episode offensive to intersex youth". Intersex Society of North America. 2001-11-26. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- Multiple authors. "Award for "Friends" (1994)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-08-26.