Skip the Mr. Beer kind of kits and go to a local Home Brew Supply shop. They'll sell you a brew kit for $75-$140 depending on how nice you want it. My local place had a deal for a while where you got your first recipe either free or deeply discounted when you bought a full kit, so that was nice. The actual kit you need isn't all that important, believe it or not. They are pretty much all the same: 6gal carboy, bottle capper, big carboy brush, tubing (sometimes), airlock & bung, etc.
The biggest issues with making your first batch something that your friends will like are:
1) Recipe selection. For a general crowd pleaser, I'd go with an American Wheat beer. Every homebrew shop has a recipe for this and they're pretty easy.
2) Fermentation temperatures. 65F is a general rule for the proper temp for your standard ales. And remember, 65F air temp outside the carboy is not same as 65F inside the carboy. Meaning you can't just set your A/C to 65F and think it's all ok. Fermenting beer can reach 5-10 degrees above the temp of the room its in. Make sure you get a thermometer strip to stick on the outside of your carboy. That will tell you the beer's temp much better than just the temp of the air in the room. Put the carboy/bucket into a big beverage cooler or tub, fill it halfway with water, and throw some ice packs in there once a day. That's the best way to start off brewing.
Other minor points: Make sure to get non-expired brewer's yeast in a dry packet from the homebrew store, it will look like a pack of bread yeast. Liquid yeast gives you more options, but for your first batch, its just too much of a hassle. Also, give it 3 full weeks in the carboy to ferment before touching it at all. Don't follow any advice that tells you to "rack to secondary after a week." That's old brewing dogma that has been proven unnecessary.