Friends like these

Culture | TV Review

Issue: "Iraq: The image war," May 22, 2004

Among the networks' woes this year is the loss, at one blow, of nearly all of their hit sitcoms. Friends has ended after 10 years. Frasier calls it quits after 11. HBO's Sex and the City is over. Even The Drew Carey Show is fading away, without benefit of a hyped finale.

Friends was a cultural icon for single 20-somethings now, after a 10-year run, turned 30-somethings. The young and beautiful friends lived in a cool apartment building in New York, hanging out at the coffee shop and enjoying life. Sex was free and easy. By one count, Rachel had 20 sexual partners over the course of the series. And even when the show dealt with what might seem to be serious issues-homosexuality, surrogate motherhood, unwed pregnancies, divorce-the characters were all equally cute and witty about them, with everyone staying guilt-free.

With the final episode, though, the wild oats are pretty much sowed. Chandler and Monica are already married, and now they have adopted twins and are moving to a house suitable for raising kids. Phoebe is married too, and at the sight of the babies, she and her husband resolve to have some. Rachel and Ross, to conclude the story arc that ran for 10 years, pledge their love and are apparently headed for the altar. By the end, only Joey is still single, unattached, and wild-oats sowing, so he gets spun off into his own show.

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The others retire from the sitcom fantasy universe to live happily ever after in the real world of marriage, building a home, and raising kids, putting their prolonged adolescence behind them. Soon the babies will be teenagers and young adults, and the parents will probably not want their sons and daughters to live as they did.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith


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