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Can we still be 'Friends'?
Tonight, NBC’s ''Friends'' launches its 10th and final season. The Emmy-winning sitcom, about the adventures of a group of six close-knit buddies living in New York City, has long reigned as one of television’s top five programs. As the series begins its wrap-up, we asked four hard-core Boston-area fans to describe their hopes for Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe.

By Suzanne C. Ryan, Globe Staff
Martin Lieberman
Martin Lieberman, 29
Brookline resident
(Globe Staff Photo / Lane Turner)
Erin Ayers
Erin Ayers, 27
Bridgewater resident
(Globe Photo /
Sarah Brezinsky)
Steve Gifford
Steve Gifford, 22
Amherst resident
(Globe Staff Photo / John Bohn)
Jocelyn D. Williams
Jocelyn D. Williams, 36
Franklin resident
(Globe Photo /
Robert E. Klein)
With whom should Rachel end up? Ross. There's no question about that. They are fated for each other. Ross. She and Ross are different enough that they can continue to challenge each other. Ross. I feel like a lot of people don't want it because it might be too neat. But they have been in love throughout the entire series. Ross. She has to. He's had two kids by two different women. They should marry for the baby.
Whom should Phoebe marry? Joey. It's not likely, especially with Joey moving off to LA. I don't think it could end with any of them married to an outside character. Mike. He doesn't mind that she's border- line insane. Phoebe and Mike are perfect for each other. She is so weird that it's a nice balance to have someone who is down to earth but so in love with her. I've always thought of her as such a free spirit that I don't see her tied down. She's too out there.
Has the show maintained its quality over the years? There were definitely some dips. The expectations became so high somewhere midway. It's definitely gone up and down. What carried it through periods of not great writing and plotlines was the actors' skills. Around season six it started to get into a little rut. But for a show that has been on for this long, it's done well. Two years ago, the story lines got a little hokey and the humor was not as crisp. It started to come back again last year.
How should the series end? I don't think there's any other way but to have Ross and Rachel marrying. It will be cheesy, expected, and not at all surprising. But that's what the fans want. Fans won't feel cheated if everybody got together: Phoebe and Mike, Ross and Rachel, Chandler and Monica and [an adopted] baby. Joey will have his career take off. Perhaps it's time that they spent a little less time together. ... It may be time for them to grow more concerned with their own lives. I know [it's] goofy but I want to see a happily-ever-after ending for all the characters.
Will you watch a planned NBC spinoff for the character Joey? I don't want to say it's going to fall flat. But it will have to really be good to make us believe the other five are not still a big part of his life. I will probably watch it at the start, but it will have to hold my interest. If Joey's show doesn't constantly refer back to ''Friends,'' it can work. I definitely will watch the first season. If they abandon the ''Friends'' environment, then I feel like it will be fine. Absolutely. Anything to do with ''Friends'' I'll watch.

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