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Does the 'Friends' finale deserve to be the decade's most watched?

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The May 6, 2004 finale of Friends aired just five years ago, but it might as well have been from some bygone era spoken of only with wistful sighs. According to The Hollywood Reporter, some 52.5 million people tuned in to watch Ross and Rachel re-re-rekindle their romance while Monica and Chandler moved out of their impossibly sweet Manhattan pad, making it the most-watched regular TV episode of the aughts. (Or the 2000s. Or the 2Ks. Or the what-have-yous.)

The list is actually a bit skewed, since no show was allowed to repeat — otherwise, at the least a few more American Idol and Survivor finales would’ve crowded their way in there. Still, it’s telling that of the ten episodes listed, only one wasn’t a season premiere, season or series finale, or post-Super Bowl event: The hour of ER when 39.4 million people crowded around their televisions to see if Dr. John Carter and med student Lucy Knight would survive their attack from a schizophrenic patient, which aired waaaay back on Feb. 17, 2000.

I still remember that night, as I do watching the Friends finale. But I also remember my brain dripping from my ears after the season three finale of Lost on May 23, 2007, which earned in comparison a scant 13.9 million viewers. On Frasier, when Niles finally confessed his love to Daphne on May 18, 2000, 33.7 million people tuned in, but when Jim and Pam finally tied the knot on The Office this fall, just 9.4 million people watched it. Yeah, I know, 9.4 million people is still a lot of eyeballs, but I gotta wonder, if cable TV, videogames, YouTube, Hulu, and DVR viewing weren’t eroding away the very idea of the Television Moment Witnessed By Everyone At The Same Time, what shows from the latter half of this decade do you think would be rubbing elbows on this list with the likes of Joey and Phoebe? Or were Friends and ER simply more naturally appealing to more people? Is there another episode from another show that you think should’ve been the most viewed of the decade?

Image Credit: NBC