| If you like your television programming saccharine, self-congratulatory, self-referential, and wildly unfunny, you obviously enjoyed the finale of Friends, and wept like---well, you probably wept the same way you did at the end of every episode of Highway To Heaven.
The rest of us---who hadn't actually watched Friends since the 1990s but are nonetheless easily coaxed into watching Very Special Television Events---were aghast at the utter wretchedness of a show that has become a slightly bigger, many-headed, vaguely updated, and suddenly baby-infested version of Three's Company. But somehow less funny, and with a coffee shop in place of the Regal Beagle. And no Don Knotts. (Although there's a very good argument to be made that ex-cast member Tom Selleck is a latter-day Don Knotts, and that Quigley Down Under is this generation's Incredible Mr. Limpet.)
When did Friends get this way?
Wait, don't answer that question. We'll have the rest of our lives to figure it out, as Friends will live on in ubiquitous syndication long past its cultural relevance---if it hasn't already---like Welcome Back Kotter or Good Times. All we can say with any certainty is that Friends checked out in a more unsatisfying way than any popular show we can recall, and a staggering 51.1 million of us watched. Amid the carnage, we identified three things that were undoubtedly among the most inane plot-twists in the history of television fiction:
They move to the suburbs? For a show that liked to imagine itself the definitive generational urban laff-riot situation comedy, this was a particularly unsatisfying turn of events for Monica and Chandler. Viewers can only hope that their expansive lawn dies, the basement floods, the neighbors are pedophiles, and an unusually stubborn group of Jehovah's Witnesses canvasses their cul-de-sac.
"What, me pregnant?" Courteney Cox is brutally pregnant in real-life. In fact, she's the most pregnant-looking person on network television since Rob Reiner in the last days of All In The Family. And yet---just like Reiner's character, Meathead---Monica was curiously not pregnant on Friends. Instead, she and Chandler adopted twins. Naturally, because Friends scripts are actually written by zoo-bred gibbons raised on episodes of Growing Pains, Monica and Chandler were shocked to discover in the delivery room that the birth-mother was having (Gasp!) twins. The birth-mother, Erika, also happened to be the 976th stock character to appear on the show who was far too dumb to function in real life, even as a Hooters girl. Or vee-jay.
"Do I move to Paris for a high-paying job, or spend the rest of my life with David Schwimmer? Hmm...." That's like choosing between having X-Ray vision, or extreme constipation, isn't it? It's not like Rachel was moving to Omaha. The choice was Paris or Schwimmer. Would anyone, anywhere make the decision that Rachel ultimately made? No, indeed they would not. Somewhere, even David Schwimmer's real-life significant other, if he has one, must have been cursing the TV.
If so, they were just like the rest of us.
Big Foam Finger