Meta Media: ‘It’s, like, the end of an era!’

How do I sum up 10 years with some of the most entertaining friends I’ve ever had? I’m almost at a loss for words. I guess this is a preview of how I’ll feel Thursday, May 6, when one of the best television sitcoms airs its last episode.

I’d be lying if I said “Friends” paralleled my real life, and certainly not my love life. No one has been in love with me since 10th grade, and I have never dated a New York City cop who shot a bird, my dad’s best friend, a sketchy Italian, a gay ice dancer, a guy who didn’t wear underwear or Jean Claude Van Damme.

But everyone relates to at least one “Friends” character, my own friends included. I know my name’s Janice, but the comparison ends there (despite a certain someone’s new nickname). Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I’m clearly a Monica: completely neurotic, too loud for my own good and competitive – although I hate to admit that last one (I was voted “Most Cutthroat” in high school). My best friend from home, Casey, is a little like Phoebe, although she doesn’t chew her hair. Jeff and Jake are both pretty terrific substitutes for Ross, and I know the Jewish version of Chandler very well. In fact, the first conversation I had with “Al” was about “Friends.” Weeks of trying to one-up each other at “Friends” trivia laid the foundation for years of friendship more rewarding than any on television.

It is undeniable that television, and “Friends” in particular, brings us together. Thursday is a going out night for much of GW, but my friends and I have gathered around the TV to laugh and relax for the past three years. I guess it’s good timing that our Thursday night commitment is ending in time for senior year, but as much fun as going out drinking will be, we’ll miss that special bond “Friends” created for us.

It’s remarkable to see how much the gang has changed in a decade, but it’s time to say goodbye before they transform into an entirely unrecognizable group. Moving to the suburbs will never be as funny as getting locked in an ATM vestibule during a blackout; having a baby doesn’t get the same kind of laughs as losing one on a city bus does; and great job opportunities don’t compare to teaching your overweight building superintendent how to ballroom dance.

I don’t like seeing all the characters going off in different directions, but at least there is one certainty. Ross and Rachel belong together, and unless NBC wants an all-out riot on its hands (and BC, I promise a good one – two plastic bags!), those two will finally figure out what we’ve known for years.

I guess it’s up to faithful fans like me to keep “Friends” alive. Thanksgiving won’t be the same without those special episodes. But I already know practically every episode by heart and can break into dialogue at any provocation – the hard part is getting me to stop. And there will never be a time when I won’t drop everything to watch my favorite episodes – the trivia contest and the one where Rachel and Phoebe find out about Chandler and Monica (“They don’t know we know they know we know!”).

For my friends and I, nothing compares to Liz Quotes, but the Central Perk crew says some funny stuff, too. What I’ll miss most about Joey is his expression when he figures something out – usually five minutes after everyone else (“How you doin’?” is a close second). For Phoebe, it’s how she says “Oh no,” as my friend Julie can attest. Rachel’s “Noooooo” is also pretty good, but Monica’s “I know!” is my favorite. For Ross, it’s a toss-up between “Fine by me!” and “Pivot!” And pretty much everything Chandler says cracks me up. No sitcom characters can compare to my real friends, and I’m lucky to have them, but I will definitely miss my “Friends.”

But hey, maybe this isn’t goodbye forever. We’re just on a break.

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