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Friends Denouement

Individually, I think all the stars of Friends are more or less appealing, especially the women (although what the hell is up with Matthew Perry gaining and losing weight like a woman? get it together, pud), but collectively and in character on the show, I have found them well nigh insufferable since about the third season. It’s very arch and twee and insular, and … in a word, ick.

So anyway, the show is finally going away after ten years and trying to avoid the Seinfeld trap:

    Since its Sept. 22, 1994, debut, “The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate” (every episode title starts “The One”), “Friends” has ranked consistently among the top 10 shows on U.S. television, becoming an integral element of pop culture in the process.

    But now, after 236 episodes, the show about six friends who share space in one another’s apartments and meet for coffee at “Central Perk,” a mythical Manhattan cafe, will conclude its 10-season run with a one-hour retrospective and one-hour final episode on May 6.

    “It’s clearly going to be remembered as one of the great sitcoms of all time,” said Bruce Fretts, a senior correspondent at TV Guide magazine. “The stars all aligned on this show. The perfect cast, the perfect time slot, the perfect time in our culture to have a show about friends as our family.”

    Be it Jennifer Aniston’s hairdo — which became known simply as the “Rachel” adorning heads in many countries — or Matt LeBlanc’s much-imitated pickup line “How you doin,”‘ as Joey, the show became part of the national psyche.

    ….More than that, though, it became a linchpin of NBC’s schedule and enriched its stars – Aniston (Rachel), Courteney Cox Arquette (Monica), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), LeBlanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler) and David Schwimmer (Ross).

    For creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, the final show was in some ways as much for them as for the viewers.

    “We didn’t want people to be disappointed of course, but we’re pretty tough on ourselves, so I think mainly what we wanted to do was make ourselves happy,” Kauffman said on a recent conference call with reporters.

    “It’s somewhere between getting a divorce from someone you’re still in love with and losing someone,” she said.

    ….Though NBC has done its fair share to promote the finale, it has not yet fostered the same kind of hype as six years ago, when the end of “Seinfeld” became such a national obsession that a small backlash ensued and led The New York Times to declare “Goodbye Already.”

    Fretts said the “Friends” send-off will be lower key than that of “Seinfeld,” which featured a host of guest stars and ended up with the main characters being sentenced to prison.

    “I think the writers of ‘Friends’ learned a lesson from the finale of ‘Seinfeld,”‘ he said. “They went too big and too high concept … it felt like something different and strange and not particularly funny.”

    The producers also worried about overstaying their welcome, a common fault of successful TV shows that try to eke too many seasons from a successful formula.

    “We were nervous enough about this (10th season), and it paid off,” Crane said.

    ….The show won’t go away completely, though. In July, NBC and Warner Bros. Television signed a deal with LeBlanc for a spin-off featuring his character, entitled “Joey.” The pilot for that show was taped in late April, and all of his old “friends” are expected to pop in as the seasons roll by.

    “Joey” will hope to emulate the success of “Frasier,” an NBC comedy that took a character from the long-running hit “Cheers” and spun him off into a new show also going off the air this year after 11 seasons.

    “I think it’s all going to depend on the execution,” TV Guide’s Fretts said. “They’re clearly sticking as close to the ‘Frasier’ model as they can.” [Reuters]

And of course Frasier is even more insufferable.

Congrats and best of luck in the future for all involved. Now go away.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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