"What do people expect, Shakespeare?" Some Salon readers weigh in in defense of "Friends" -- but others find new bones to pick in the finale.

By Salon Staff

Published May 11, 2004 8:00PM (EDT)

[Read "Never Forget Your 'Friends'," by Heather Havrilesky; "Fair-weather 'Friends'; and the last batch of letters about "Friends" from our readers.]

How negative! First your entire staff pitches in with why they didn't like "Friends," and then your in box is filled with similar comments, which you then publish. So you didn't like it. So what? It's over and so is your suffering.

I liked the show. I watched it on and off for most of its 10 years, and now enjoy the reruns while I make dinner. It was entertaining and funny most of the time. The characters, if not realistic, were likable. A sitcom about characters who are "like me" would undoubtedly be boring. It's fiction, people, not reality.

-- Sue MacIntosh

I don't take issue with the fact that many readers had problems with "Friends," as certainly any show has its strengths and its flaws, its ups and downs. I even agree with some of the more regular criticism -- Ross definitely became less and less sympathetic (and/or watchable) as the years went on, although I think he was redeemed somewhat in the final season.

However, I think that two of the criticisms that popped up repeatedly are off-base.

First, the complaints that they lived in phenomenally expensive apartments. I can only assume that this accusation is leveled at Monica's apartment, since none of the others seemed like they would be prohibitively expensive. It was explained from the very beginning of the show that the Monica/Rachel/Chandler apartment was rent-controlled (and this was noted in the finale as well). Problem solved.

Second, the complaints that their bed-hopping and changing affections were unrealistic. I'm astonished that there are so many people out there who have never developed a crush on a close friend (à la Joey). I'm astonished that there are people who have never, ever considered getting back together with an ex. I'm astonished that there are people out there who haven't dated someone, then broken up but managed to remain friends.

All of these things have happened to me and my close circle of friends -- and now we have a marriage (with more in the works), couples who have split and then reunited, and, back before things settled down, yes, some of what could only be called "bed-hopping." Heck, at one point we even had a secret relationship that eventually came to light. Yes, we're in our mid- to late-20s. And no, mine is not the only social group I know of where similar events have taken place. Far from it.

-- Adam Rettberg

With all the buzz about "Friends," it surprises me that no one has ever given credit to the movie that, to my mind, cleared the way for it: Cameron Crowe's 1992 film "Singles" was a great, character-driven romantic comedy ensemble piece, clever without being snide, sweet without being sticky, and ultimately about getting along and being happy when your life hasn't exactly turned out the way you thought it would. (Plus, it had a kick-ass score by Paul Westerberg.)

-- Tim Moerman

I only started watching "Friends" in reruns last year at the urging of my teenage daughter. At first I was a little surprised at the almost-relentless explicit sexual references in every show, mainly because it airs early in the evening.

But after I became used to that, I found the show very entertaining. Not brilliant, not mind-expanding, but always very diverting and entertaining and even sometimes quite a high-level comedy of manners. And the fact that it continued for 10 years is quite an accomplishment.

What surprises me are the reviews, both by critics and fans and/or former fans.

What do people expect, Shakespeare? And if a network dared to run "Two Gentlemen of Verona" or "A Midsummer Night's Dream" or any other of the Bard's comedies, does anyone really think it would last more than three episodes?

Hey, this is 21st century America -- you know, the place where most people's attention span is barely the length of a 30-second commercial and half the population doesn't even know who the president is.

Give me a break.

-- Norma Rothenberg

I watched "Friends" every now and again, but it never seriously hooked me as a viewer.

I did tune in for the final episode and, well ... ummm ... a few things really stood out: Where was baby Emma? I know Rachel's baby was with her mother, but it really looked as if she was moving to Paris without her daughter. And then there's Chandler and Monica, new parents home just a few hours with their less-than-a-day-old twins: Does anyone know of even one first-time mom or dad anywhere who would wander across a hall to another apartment leaving behind their two infants?

And still on the topic of the babies on the show: twins, a "pleasant surprise," in 2004?

Finally, the teenager (Erica) who gave up her babies to Monica and Chandler didn't seem to have any kind of an interior struggle with the whole "giving babies away" process.

Were all the writers on this show unmarried, childless morons?

-- B. Read

Salon Staff

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