Ever notice how sitcoms are all about groups of friends now?

But the change also reflects something deeper about the patterns of friendship in society. With people delaying marriage and childbearing into their 30s, young people now spend long periods of their lives outside of traditional families, living among diverse friendship tribes. These friendship networks are emotionally complicated and deeply satisfying — ripe ground for a comedy of manners.

Then, when these people do get married, friendship becomes the great challenge. Middle-aged Americans are now likely to live in two-earner families. But despite career pressures, they have not cut back on the amount of time they spend with their kids. Instead, they have sacrificed friendship time.

So these flock comedies serve another purpose for the middle-aged. They appeal to people who want to watch fictional characters enjoying the long, uninterrupted bonding experiences that they no longer have time or energy for.