Ostensibly, I should be able to write something about the end of Friends, what with it being on TV and me writing about TV regularly, blah-de-blah.
However, I really haven't watched the show with any avidity since about season 2. The Diet Coke commercial and post-Super Bowl episode did me in as a fan: that was the moment when the hype and celebrity eclipsed the actual show, and the reason I watched -- six people apparently shocked at how hard it was to be a functioning adult! Hey, I was shocked at how hard it was to be a functioning adult! I can relate to this show! --- well, that reasoning dissolved. It's kind of hard to suspend disbelief and identify with the characters when, to the best of your knowledge, you're not going to be holding the nation hostage to your Diet Coke capers any time soon. I watched intermittently after that, when I was at work and needed something on the Watchman to keep me company as I worked, but stopped in disgust once the writers began hitting the fat suit.
So I really don't know what I've been missing since then. I used to have a fond spot for Friends, as I associate its debut with my entree into the adult world, but now, I think of it more like Melrose Place, only shorter. I loved Melrose Place for a few seasons; I'd watch it with friends in weekly get-togethers, and it was all a good time. But after a few years, it started getting pathetic -- the plot twists were ludicrous, and instead of whooping with delight, I was just kind of irritated. I had moved on and matured. Why couldn't the show?
By the time Melrose Place went off the air, I hadn't watched it in years. I tuned in for the finale out of a misplaced sense of sentimental obligation, and ended up feeling like I had just attended a dramatic reading of my high school yearbook. Melrose Place was an artifact of another time.
For me, so is Friends. Which is why I won't be watching tonight. If, as L.P. Hartley says, "The past is another country; they do things differently there," then I'm not up for a night of nostalgic touring.
Should Teevee fail to slake your thirst for commentary -- a prospect I can't imagine, but I suppose it's possible -- then there are a few other pieces to read. Slate's "Just Drop By" is one take on the show's appeal -- it reminds people of the days when their friends could come over to play instead of being all distracted with spouses and careers and children and whatnot. I also think Salon's roundup of when people stopped watching is a clever editorial idea. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Fametracker's look at where the actors are likely to go from here, via their Fame Audit.