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Lichty, "Friends" steered clear of politics and current events - a critical component for a series' "timelessness" and appeal through endless reruns and historical flux.
In an apartment blocks away from the World Trade Center, there was no mention of terror or hijacked planes - and after Sept.
They wanted to embrace vibrancy and vitality — in the mystical sense of the word, the erotic.
I owe them much of my perspective on life, as well as my belief in the power of will, the search for meaning, and the resilience of the human spirit.
"I thought it was ridiculous," says one 26-year-old lawyer in Washington, who nonetheless tuned into reruns through college and law school.
"It was a bunch of kids who lived off their parents, had an amazing apartment, and just celebrated this culture I found annoying." The nostalgia for the show, she says, "is just becoming kind of sad."Beyond its glamour, "Friends" is widely lauded as the first true "ensemble" show - a series with no clear star or center, a cast of equals with no authority figure in sight. The ensemble aims are clear even in the series' title, a marked contrast to shows like "Seinfeld," "The Cosby Show," and "I Love Lucy."Like any durable sitcom, says Dr.
"There has always been a certain fascination with being young, on your own, in the big city, and having all this freedom," continues Mr. "Back to the days of Thomas Wolfe [who wrote 'You Can't Go Home Again'], there's always something about starting out on your own in a city....
It wasn't a hard-hitting topical show, but that kind of suited its time."If it wasn't topical, it did plumb contemporary topics: surrogate motherhood, adoption, infidelity, out-of-wedlock births, lesbian parenting, interracial dating, premarital sex, even impotence.
Once dismissed as tired, the series drew an audience of 27 million in 2001 - one out of every three TV viewers in the coveted audience of ages 18 to 49.
Where a more earnest baby boomer generation took on life-or-death topics - as epitomized on shows like the 1980s hit "Thirtysomething" - this group probed their own identities and the quandaries of single life in the '90s.
Indeed, the show's era may have been critical to its success, says David Bushman, television curator at New York's Museum of Television & Radio.
And beyond its import for ratings and commercials, says one sociolinguist, that demographic is critical culturally, perhaps down to the evolution of language.
"Friends" emerges as a harbinger of the vernacular to come, says Sali Tagliamonte, a linguistics professor at the University of Toronto, who's just completed a study of conversation on the show.