5.11.2004

life without hot white chicks on television...

the last episode of friends aired last week with over 52,000,000 people tuned in. it was actually a rather mundane episode providing closure in almost every way to the show. as far as show finales go, i'd give somewhere between a B and a B-. it was interesting to see the reaction of people that i watched the show with, with about half of them not ever really watching the show. i suspect that their reasons were similar to the most commonly cited criticism of friends, it's too white. while i do think that the show is all about whitey, i don't neccesarily think that it should be criticized for this reason. me, i think that the show is pretty funny, and on occasion, hilarious. friends has good writers and the characters that they've developed over the last ten years are pretty good in the grand pantheon of sit-com characters. i personally think that the monica as obsessive compulsive is really funny. in any case, like i said, the show is written by whitey, for whitey. and in a great multicultural world where race isn't an issue, this might be a problem. but the fact is, race is an issue that can often have heavy psychological effects, namely white guilt, that can really bring people down, i.e. Roots. the point is, sometimes television is a respite and a distraction from the real world. i don't think it is accurate to describe friends as a paridigmatic representation of white supremacy as it would be to describe it as a show about white people who like most white people in the world, don't have that many people of color as friends, which in turn provides some people with a few comic moments with a representation that they are able to relate to. now i'm not saying it provides all people with this, like i said before, made by whitey, for whitey, but i feel like dismissing it on those grounds is like saying, "i don't like good times because i, middle-white-class-person, can't identify with poor working class african-americans." the failure is not on the show's part, it is on the viewer's part for failing to be able to imagine an experience that is different from theirs. so people who dismiss friends for being too white are doing the exact same thing that people who dismiss black popular culture for being too black. friends is a funny show about white people, get over it.

as far as series finales go, i thought that it was pretty appropriate in the same way that the finale to seinfeld was appropriate. there were definitely funnier episodes of both friends and seinfeld, but the series finale did a good job of providing the trip down memory lane and the closure that i think that finales should. more importantly both kept to the spirit of the show. seinfeld was ultimately about a group of people so outrageously self centered that it crossed over from offensive to hilarious and the final episode really drove that point home. friends is all about being young and single in the big city as you try to negotiate career, family, and romance. so like most fantasies of white middle class young single people, the series finale ended with ross and rachel getting together, ross with a great job, rachel with a career of some sort, and they also had a family. the mundanity of the finale i think fits in perfectly with this type of ending. in stark contrast would be the series finale of sex and the city, which totally violated the spirit of its show by appealing to the vulgar conceptions of what white middle class women want.

as far as sitcoms go, i hate to say it, but friends really was a phenomenon. you don't last ten seasons for sucking. the millions of crappy knockoffs that we all had to endure, like the single guy, caroline in the city, and coupling, is also a testament to its greatness. there are so few consistently funny sitcoms on network television, that it is not a good thing that we lose one that is. i, for one will miss friends if for no other reason than it was usually a pretty funny show.

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