Central Perk - The Friends Wiki
The One With The Rumor
Season 8, Episode 9
Air date 22 November 2001
Written by Shana Goldberg-Meehan
Directed by Gary Halvorson
Episode guide
The One With The Stripper
The One With Monica's Boots
Janice litman

"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.[1] 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) 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.[1] It was nominated for multiple 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 Arquette) tells her friends that she will not be cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving because of the large amount of leftovers it will create. 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 aversion when he finds out Rachel will be joining them for dinner.

Throughout dinner, Will is hostile to Rachel, and eventually reveals that during high school, he and Ross initiated the episode's titular rumor: that Rachel is a hermaphrodite. 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 reveals that this is in fact true). When Ross and Rachel argue, Monica reminds them that they are having a baby together and that some things are more important than high school.

[edit] Production[]

It was reported by Entertainment Weekly that Pitt would don a fat suit for flashback scenes to his fat childhood,[2] though this was unfounded as Will's weight was merely referred to on screen.[3] 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.[4] 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.[3] The episode was taped on November 2, following four days of rehearsals.[5]

[edit] Reception[]

The episode was watched by 13 million households and 24.24 million viewers overall. 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."[6] His work on set is admired by the main stars; Schwimmer recalls Pitt was "definitely [...] going against type"[7] and LeBlanc called him "really great on the show".[4] 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.[8]

The eponymous rumor drew criticism from the Intersex Society of North America, 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.[9]

[edit] Emmy Award nominations[]

Pitt was nominated for an 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, also for their work on the episode.[10]