From 1994 to 2004, much of the world was in love with NBC sitcom ‘Friends’. When it aired its series finale in 2004, over 50 million people tuned in. The world is clearly still in love with ‘Friends’, really, as it is available on Netflix and regularly aired in the United States and all over the world. You can buy all ten of the seasons on DVD.
Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Monica, and Joey—and the actors that portrayed them—are well known to a pretty significant portion of the planet. To say that the show was loved by millions is truly an understatement.
There’s been talk of a reunion, but those rumors have been shut down, so how can there be “news” about a sitcom that aired its last episode well over 13 years ago?
Well, the news is that certain viewers have decided that ‘Friends’ is homophobic. It is also misogynistic and transphobic, as well. Also, it hates fat people!
Apparently a lot of people on Twitter have decided the aforementioned labels apply to the hit show.
Let’s address the homophobic aspect first. There was indeed one episode where Ross kind of freaked out that his son was playing with a Barbie doll, which apparently means Ross was worried that Ben would grow up to be homosexual. He also wasn’t a huge fan of Rachel hiring a man to take care of their daughter.
Chandler also didn’t like the fact that his father had an affair with the pool boy, and the rest of the friends had a good time mocking him for what his father did.
In regard to the transphobia accusation, Chandler admittedly did not like that his father ended up becoming a drag star in Las Vegas. His parents’ failed marriage, which failed for pretty obvious reasons, was a big source of stress for him when he was preparing to marry Monica.
As for the misogyny accusation, it seems to revolve around the fact that the other characters would frequently make fun of Monica—played by the slender and beautiful Courtney Cox—for having been fat while she was a teenager. I supposed fat-shaming could be construed as a form of misogyny.
One person on Twitter said the way Monica was fat-shamed on the show would forever be “problematic”, pointing out that she wasn’t even really portrayed as that fat.
It is worth nothing that Monica wasn’t only the formerly fat female character on NBC back in the 1990’s. On the show “Wings”, which is the program that happily introduced us all to the extremely talented and beloved Tony Shaloub, there was a character named Helen who was fat as a child. Like Monica, she was played by an extremely thin and also very attractive actress. “Wings”, in case you’re curious, actually premiered several years before “Friends”.
Was Chandler mocked for being a bit effeminate? Yes, he was. Did Ross freak out over the Barbie thing? Indeed, he did. That was a different time, though. Again, the show hasn’t aired a new episode in over 13 years. Would the questionable storylines and episodes “Friends” today be acceptable in today’s society? Probably not, no—if there was an episode of a modern television show about a man being weirded out by his son playing with dolls, that character would most certainly be harshly criticized for it.
Again, times have changed. “Wings”, the show I mentioned above? Early the show’s run, one of the main characters’ son came out as gay, and the father in question was not at all happy. The father wouldn’t accept his son for seven years. One of the other characters on the show treated the son extremely poorly during the “coming out” episode, in a way that was supposed to be funny, but really wasn’t. Those were the attitudes of the time, and our television programs reflected those attitudes. So does that mean the shows should be given a free pass? Should the younger generations—those that didn’t grow up with the programs—be allowed to watch them considering their dated and possibly offensive views?
“Friends”, it should be mentioned, did air a wedding between Ross’ ex-wife and her lesbian partner, so the writing staff couldn’t have been as homophobic as people these days seem to think. The two women were portrayed as loving mothers who had a mostly good relationship with Ross, the father of the little boy they were primarily responsible for raising.
I’m on season 8 of Friends. I’m here to tell you, they are all trash people and really bad friends. First of all, the show is constantly homophobic & misogynistic for the lols.
— Chris Sonnex (@ChrisSonnex) January 9, 2018
One Twitter user who accused the show of being misogynistic and homophobic called all six of the main characters trash and terrible friends. They actually were sort of terrible friends to one another, when you think about it. If I had a friend who teased me as relentlessly as Phoebe teased Chandler, that person would never hear from me again. Chandler also made fun of Joey a lot for being a bit dim.
”Friends” isn’t the only popular show to be criticized lately for outdated views. For example, “Cheers” has been criticized for its treatment of women, as have the shows “Taxi”, “WKRP in Cincinatti”, and even “MASH”.