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Friends’ enters final season

Sarah Vabulas and Rama Gottumukkala, Scene Editors | Tuesday, September 23, 2003

This fall, “Friends,” the NBC comedy sitcom that millions of fans around the globe have come to love and adore, enters its final season of syndication. The show focuses on the interactions between Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe and Ross, along with their romantic on goings.

Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green), Courteney Cox Arquette (Monica Geller Bing), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay), Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani), Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing) and David Schwimmer (Ross Geller) star in this hit comedy about six close-knit young friends living in New York City.

Beginning its tenth season as the leadoff series on NBC’s enormously popular “Must See TV” Thursday-night lineup, “Friends” continues to garner critical acclaim and ratings success. The show reigns as the number-one show on television.

Since its debut season (1994-95), “Friends” has garnered 44 Emmy Award nominations, including five for Outstanding Comedy Series, and has won six Emmy Awards. The cast won a Screen Actors Guild Award in 1996 for Outstanding Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Series and has been nominated four times (1996, 1997, 1998 and 2002) for a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy. “Friends” won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite New Comedy Series in its first season, and has since won three more times as Favorite Comedy Series.

The series focuses on the friendship of three men and three women who frequently gather at each other’s apartments and share sofa space at Greenwich Village’s “Central Perk” coffeehouse. Monica is a chef with an obsession for neatness and order in her life. She is also married to Chandler (Perry), a computer programmer with a quick wit who is never at a loss for words. Across the hall is Chandler’s longtime roommate Joey, a not-so-intelligent, womanizing actor currently on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.”

Across the alley from Monica and Chandler lives Monica’s hapless brother Ross, a paleontology professor who has been divorced three times, including once from Rachel, Monica’s pampered best friend from high school. Although Rachel is no longer romantically involved with Ross, she currently shares his apartment where they are raising their newborn daughter, Emma. Rounding out the circle of friends is Monica’s ex-roommate, Phoebe Buffay, an offbeat, eternally optimistic folk singer and massage therapist.

One of the show’s strengths rests in its incredibly diverse and rich cast of core characters. There is no single character who gets the majority of screen time, but instead the show mixes and matches comedic situations involving all six main characters. The result is that each of the six compatriots has developed a rich history, with no one character emerging as the top banana on the show. You are just as likely to find a Friends fan who empathizes with Ross, a sensitive, hopeless romantic, as another fan who blurts out Joey’s pickup line “How you doin’?” at every opportune moment.

The sitcom is both well cast and well scripted. But above all else, the writers and actors have pooled their efforts to create believable characters that you can’t help but empathize with. The key to the show’s success comes from the varied and thorough backgrounds that each character has been given. These extensive histories explain a great deal about the underlying identities and emotions of the title characters, and gives us the feeling that these six people really do know each other and have been friends for years.

The series was created by the writing team of Marta Kauffman and David Crane. Emmy and Cable ACE Award-winning producer Kevin Bright is executive producer with Kauffman and Crane. Scott Silveri, Shana Goldberg-Meehan, Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen also serve as executive producers. “Friends” is a Bright/Kauffman/Crane Production in association with Warner Bros. Television.