With tonight's hour-long finale of sitcom and Bonafide Cultural Phenomenon Friends, we fully expected the critics to work themselves into a lather explaining What Friends Meant. We were not disappointed.
[Rachel's] new Friends provided her with a utopian version of post-adolescence. Though it was not the first Manhattan-based show to do so, Friends was the first to present the idea of the "urban tribe" as a desirable and attractive alternative to married family life.[...]
Beginning with a stunt-heavy guest-star phase, it quickly turned itself into a self-conscious star parade that was consistently reinforcing its own status as a cultural phenomenon, and expanding on its own presence in the culture until it became a highly stylized, almost formal exercise in celebrity, star power and self-referentiality.