Friends star Monica (Courteney Cox) is one of the most beloved characters on television (and Rachel, and Ross, and Chandler, and Joey, and Phoebe!), but as it turns out, the beginning of her story could have been very different.
You may recall that in the series pilot, "The One Where Monica Gets A Roommate," Monica's got a date with "Paul the wine guy," who she in fact sleeps with the same episode. That nearly didn't happen, according to Friends co-creator David Crane.
"When we were doing the pilot, Don Meyer, who was then the head of NBC, took real issue with the fact that Monica sleeps with a guy on the first date," said Crane. "He said, ‘We’re not going to like her!’ But we really held our ground on it." But despite how strongly Crane and company felt about the scene, NBC was still on the fence about the entire situation.
Director James Burrows had a plan to test the pilot in front of a live audience in a bid to receive reactions as they happened, which NBC used as a litmus test to see how viewers responded.
"The network gave the audience a questionnaire that was so skewed,” Crane said. “It basically said: ‘When she does this, is she a trollop? Is she a slut?'" But despite the obvious slant from the network, audiences loved it, and had no reason to dislike Monica because of her "choices."
"The audience all came back with, ‘No, we still like her,'" according to Crane. Following the survey, the NBC executive Meyer approved the storyline and it went to air, but for a much less salient reason: he felt Monica "got what she deserved" regarding Paul's line that he hadn't had sex in two years.
"I could see the steam coming out of Marta’s nose," said Crane of his partner Marta Kauffman's reaction. "And I’m tap-dancing going, ‘But you’re okay with it! So if you’re okay with it then we’re good, let’s move on, yay!'”
The rest, as they say, is history – but it's still disappointing to think that Monica may not have been the same character she is today had audiences not pulled through. The more you know, huh?