The mystery of the disappearing wooden beam in Monica Geller’s apartment in Friends has been solved, thanks to new details from the Friends reunion special. Portrayed by actress Courteney Cox, Monica was known for her cleanliness and keeping her apartment organized. While some well-known staples like the purple wall and yellow peephole frame never changed, fans took notice of a certain support beam that seemingly went away without any mention.
It’s been 17 years since the friends all gathered in Monica’s apartment for the last time in the classic NBC sitcom. Starring Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, and Cox as recurring ensemble cast members, Friends achieved massive success during its broadcast and in the years since. After years of pleading from fans, followed by pandemic-related delays, a reunion special finally premiered on HBO Max on May 27, 2021.
The truth about the wooden beam came when the cast was exploring recreated versions of the iconic sets from Friends during the reunion special. From the famous Central Perk coffee shop to Joey and Chandler’s apartment, the friends got to see their old props and relive their memories while filming for the show. As part of Monica’s apartment, the production crew had reinstated a large wooden support beam that appeared in earlier seasons. The framework consisted of a large horizontal beam that went across the ceiling near the edge of Monica’s kitchen and came down by the refrigerator and down on the end by the audience. After disappearing for quite some time, the beam would occasionally return in later Friends episodes. Schwimmer’s character, Ross, had even smacked his head on the part near the audience in a season 3 episode.
Schwimmer and Kudrow were the first ones to arrive at the studio and see the sets, and after sharing a warm greeting with one another, they examined Monica’s apartment. “Wasn’t there a decision to lose this?” Schwimmer asked his former costar as he gestured toward the beam. Kudrow responded, “Yeah, I thought this was gone! This was here in the beginning and… it got in the way.” The pair then stood behind the beam and blocked their faces from the camera operator, showcasing just why it was first removed from the original set. Yet this never came with any in-universe explanation.
Long before the Friends reunion, fans on Reddit had taken note of the disappearing beam, which has now turned into an Easter egg for faithful watchers of the series. It turns out that the beam would only reappear when a specific director – James Burrows – was directing an episode. Among other episodes, Burrows had directed the pilot and had added the framework as an eye-catching visual in the beginning. However, after interfering with production by blocking camera angles and casting strange shadows, the wooden beam was removed as a staple from the Friends set.