Cultural Signposts

“Friends” and “Frasier” are broadcasting their final episodes this week and next, respectively. “Friends” I watched occasionally but never really got the point of. Tina Brown has written a scintillating column in the Washington Post about its cultural significance, so I suppose I’ll re-read that and try to absorb the Zeitgeist. (There’s also an interesting story over at The Smoking Gun about allegations of harassment and other generally inappropriate and over-the-top behavior by the overwhelmingly male scriptwriters for the series.) I guess the hype and the nostalgia are more about the “lifestyle” (imaginary though it may have been) that the show represented, as well as the pre-reign-of-terrorism time that the show harked back to, than the show itself and its soon-to-be-fading-celebrity multimillionaire stars.

“Frasier” I watched a lot more. I enjoyed some episodes, found Kelsey Grammer sometimes sublimely funny but generally irritating beyond description, and lost interest once Niles and Daphne got together after, oh, seven years of mooning and pining and Shakespearean intrigue. Now “Everybody Loves Raymond” is the sole surviving veteran sitcom (unless you count “The Simpsons,” still going strong, more or less, after almost 14 years).