Today is the tenth anniversary of the Friends finale. For us, this was the end of a decade that shaped the way we watched TV. Friends was the first “grown-up” sitcom I watched, the first time I really experienced ships and running gags and over-investment in TV characters. When we watched the finale on May 6, 2004 we knew that something special was coming to an end. Now that a decade has passed, and Friends has been off the air as long as it was on, we thought this was the perfect time to live blog The Last One – the final episode of Friends.
T: For the record, this finale gives me a lot A LOT of feels, so I tend to avoid it like the plague. I’ve only seen it maybe five times (?) in the past 10 years, as opposed to all the other eps which I’ve basically seen too many times to count.
M: Twice here, I think. Maybe three times. Same reason. By the way, the end of Friends roughly marked the end of that thing where you knew everyone was watching the same show at the same time as you. There were several years between this finale and DVR and internet TV taking off, but Friends was really one of the last big shows of the primetime era. Cultural shifts in our lifetime, y’all.
T: (opening scene) I’ve never taken Joey for someone who prides himself in style, but this brown button up dress shirt with random blue print is … definitely from 2004. Must be the free Ralph Lauren from Rachel.
T: :54 #ClapClapClapClap
M: Remember when there was a CD of the Friends soundtrack? It was in the early years, like 1995ish. I think it had the theme song by like 5 different bands. Probably like… the Lemonheads. Lisa Loeb. Presidents Of The United States Of America. That sort of thing.
M: I had 1000% forgotten that this was Anna Faris. By the way, I was just in a maternity ward this week (not my baby) and those rooms look completely the same as they did in 2004. And even in 2004, the decor was sort of 1983-ish.
T: Also FTR, I have always and WILL always be a Ross/Rachel shipper. I don’t care how cliche that is. Which makes this finale even more perfect.
M: You know how girls have celebrity spirit animals? Like Audrey Hepburn or Beyonce? Mine is Chandler Bing.
T: I forget, how old is Erica supposed to be? Like in her 20s? Why is she going to “Church Camp” as an adult??
M: “Do you ever wonder what is worse, going through labor or getting kicked in the nuts? […] Maybe there’s even something more painful than both those things. Like this.” WHY did it take Monica like 6 seasons to scoop up this gem of a man.
T: 5:20 WHERE ARE CHICK JR. AND DUCK JR. NOW??? HUH???
M: Dead. With 8 generations of descendants. Because this was a decade ago. Really depressing to think about animals in beloved TV shows of the past, isn’t it?
M: 4:40 (Oh hey my episode’s on a slightly different timeline than Traci’s by the way): Ross: You were sure Ben was going to be a girl. Phoebe: Have you seen him throw a ball?
And on that note, I give you Ben, 2014:
T: 6:28 Ross: “Hey, I’m not one to kiss and tell. But I’m also not one to have sex and shut up – we totally did it!” This line makes me LOL unreasonably.
M: Most 2004 thing in this scene: the giant CD tower.
Second-most 2004 thing: Phoebe’s tattoo choker necklace.
T: 7:15 Okay, Phoebe’s running joke about everything being a musical is so underrated, I feel.
M: YES! Actually, I think Phoebe as a character is underrated. Phoebe and Chandler.
M: No, really, am I just old or has fashion barely changed in the past decade? I know we wrote about mid-2000s trends but the fact is that Ross’s shirt and sweater combo and Rachel’s straightened highlighted hair totally still works.
T: 9:25 These baby cries seem awfully fake (I know they are, but)
M: “That is one disgusting miracle” – consider this a preview of my post about lines from Friends that I still have in my everyday lexicon.
T: 10:35 I remember YELLING at the TV when the doctor said ‘the other baby is coming in a minute’. It was like I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant but, like I Didn’t Know I Was Having Two Kids And Not One instead. Also, can you imagine getting all the stuff you need for one baby and then you come home with two?? Like can you put another baby in a crib? You would need to buy alll the diapers. Stressful.
M: I can’t even handle surprise parties. For other people, even. Surprise babies? NOPE. I remember being really angry as well, because it seemed like such a cheap sitcom-y situation. I know it’s a sitcom. But still.
M: When Erica says the line about both heartbeats being really strong “and that’s good because I’m having a baby” I realize that I basically have this entire episode memorized. And thus I must have seen it way more than two times. I’m starting to think I watched it multiple times right after it aired (on VHS, natch) then haven’t seen it again since like … maybe 2005.
M: Joey to Ross: “Is that what a dinosaur would do?” I love the recurring joke where nobody’s at all clear on what Ross does (see also: “one sad polontologist”).
M:13:11 (iTunes episode timeline): 2004 throwback: Atkins reference. Oh God I hated Atkins. Just because how annoying people were on it. Around 2004, I remember a lady at the movie theatre where I worked grilling me on whether popcorn had carbs. I think I answered “yeah, probably a lot.” Employee of the decade here.
T: 14:49 Ross ‘waiting’ and leaning against the couch while Gunther professes his love for Rachel is the greatest. Ross is my favorite friend. Tied with Chandler. I just think Ross is so underrated.
M: Yeah, I’ll buy that, too. When I was a kid he seemed like the most “boring grownup” type of the bunch, but he plays sad-sack goofy nerd so well!
T: 17:35 Phoebe: “Sure he’s (Gunther) is more sexy in an obvious way.” Phoebe has the weirdest taste in guys. James Brolin, Jack Geller, Jacques Cousteau… I will say she scored with Paul Rudd though.
M: Thing I never thought about raising kids in New York City: having to secure a car seat into a cab. Excuse me, two car seats. EVERY TIME. Do you know how long those suckers take to get into the car? And you’re supposed to have firefighters check to make sure it’s in right. Do they have special firefighters checking every cab? Doubtful.
T: 18:45 Phoebe’s friend Ethel’s baby came home with a TEENY TINY BEARD.
T: 20:50 I LEGIT AM ALREADY TEARING UP WITH RACHEL SAYING GOODBYE TO ROSS.
M: Is it wrong that I really like Rachel’s 2004 outfit? There are knee socks. And a pullover vest. I think I just answered my own question.
T: Man, I would die if I was in the audience for this finale. Can you even imagine?
T: 23:00 I love when Phoebe’s angry/street side comes out. Never forget where you come from, y’all. Also, Not like I pass by toll booths all the time, but I think about Pheebs throwing the change at the window every time I drive through one.
M: Me too! I use EZPass (I love New York) and every time I’m at an out-of-state toll booth I have an instant Phoebe reaction.
T: I appreciate that the writers also decided to bring another OTP back together for the finale: Chandler and Joey. The whole trying to find Chick & Duck Jr. together was great, particularly with the foosball table metaphor and Monica eventually being the one to break it because the boys can’t do it.
M: There was a really good physical comedy moment when the ball drops into the foosball table and the camera closes in on their faces as they wait to hear what happens with it.
T: 29:23 Ross: “Okay if you could all walk slower, that would be great.” Me, anytime I walk anywhere with tourists or slow people.
M: I always angrily walk around them because I CANNOT DEAL WITH THAT. I’m a pretty chill driver, but I think I might have whatever the walking version of road rage is. Sidewalk rage, I guess.
M: I think this is one of the first airport chase scenes of the post-9/11 era. It was all so much easier before.
T: 31:25 Thinking of turning Ross’ ‘MONICA. MONICA. MONICA. MONICA… THAT IS PRECIOUS” into my ringtone.
M: There’s no .gif of Joey saying “good game” to all of the foosball guys. Just, y’know, in case you were wondering. Also Monica and Chandler are neglecting their babies kind of a lot, right?
T: 36:43 The guy who says ‘WHAT’S GOING ON??’ on the plane << overacting, much??
T: 39:00 Awkward hug or lame cool guy handshake was a thing my friends and I did the last night I lived on campus before going off to study abroad.
T: 40:00 Phoebe Buffay: Ultimate Ross and Rachel shipper
T: 41:28 annnnddd cue the crying yet again. Damnnit Schwimmer. I really thought she would stay too.. except there’s still 10 minutes left sooo
M: I think I cried when Rachel got on the plane when this first aired. Now I’m mostly dead inside so it’s cool, but I do remember the feeling. Of, you know, having feelings.
T: 42:43 Remember those old answering machines? Remember how it took me forever to come up with that term? It’s been 10 years and virtually no one uses those anymore, which is odd, because nothing in this episode looks like 2004 to me.
T: 44:20 cue crying number three
M: Nope. My eyes are as dry as Nevada in August, here. I love when “live studio audiences” used to do that “wooooo!” thing when people kissed.
T: 44:57 I remember telling someone before the finale aired that the ‘we were on a break line’ was going to be in the finale, if not the last line. kudos for me being insane.
M: I mean it was probably me. We had a legitimate long-standing bet about the parentage of Rachel’s baby before it was revealed. So yeah, we’ve always been a bit over-invested in TV.
T: 46:00 Joey: ‘Has it always been purple?’ What fans were thinking at that exact same moment
T: 46:22 I didn’t know what rent control was so I legit only know what it is today because I looked it up after this finale.
T: 46:37 I couldn’t believe we also spent 10 years without knowing Ross had a background in dance.
T: 47:00 Love this key scene – even though they never locked the door (except for the time where Underdog Got Away). After the finale I found some desktop wallpaper that some fan had made that was a picture of the six keys in a circle on the counter that said ‘Leave the keys, take the memories’
T: 47:45 REAL FREAKING TEARS FROM EVERYONE RN INCLUDING ME AND ALSO I HAVE THE CHILLS
M: Okay I think I just felt something. Empty apartment. Ugh. I think every sitcom writers room should be required to watch certain really good finales before they can start writing theirs. Friends is on the list.
Final Thoughts: This series finale puts a perfect bow on top of the present which we call Friends (lame, whatevs). But really. This finale is proof that this show is one of the most revered sitcoms in TV history. In the original pitch for the show from creators Marta Kaufman and David Crane, the show (first titled Insomnia Cafe), they made it clear that this was going to be a series about friends and growing up in your 20s.
An excerpt from the original pitch:
It’s about sex, love, relationship, careers… a time in your life when everything is possible, which is really exciting and really scary. It’s about searching for love and commitment and security… and a fear of love and commitment and security. And it’s about friendship, because when you’re young and single in the city, your friends are your family.
They stayed true to the original premise for all 10 years – even if you thought the later seasons were not funny. The finale was a culmination of what they’ve learned over the past decade; them growing up together, showing that they were able to get over the fear of love and commitment and security – because a decade later, they had it. It was the perfect time for them to start a new chapter of their lives with their own families and to finally say goodbye. Finales should be all about not only satisfying the characters in their own (fictional) lives, but maybe more importantly satisfying for the fans. And that’s exactly what the Friends finale did.