Central jerk: All the reasons why ‘Friends’ is problematic AF
So Friends is leaving Netflix finally. To commemorate, we’re looking at all the reasons the news really isn’t that bad.
Ah, Friends: arguably the most popular sitcom in history. There’s hardly a member of Generation X who can’t recall the moment Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) shared their first kiss (or the moment “they were on a break”!)
Despite being off the air for ten years, the shenanigans of Ross, Rachel, Monica (Courtney Cox), Chandler (Matthew Perry), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) continue to prove popular on primetime TV. However, nearly a quarter of a century since the show first graced our screens (feel old yet?) it appears a new generation of viewers has discovered the show thanks to Netflix. And let’s just say, they’re less than impressed.
Numerous millennials have taken to Twitter to claim the show is sexist, homophobic, and transphobic, not to mention nonchalant when it comes to sexual assault. Let’s reflect by taking a look at some of the most offensive moments in Friends’s history. “So no one told you life was gonna be this way” . . . fast forward to 2019 and this statement is more poignant than ever.
The one where Paolo assaulted Phoebe and everyone thought it was funny
MEGA-LOLZ. Sexual assault is such a laugh . . . . Seriously though, it’s a relief everyone is finally aware “making a move” does not mean grabbing someone’s butt while they’re trying to work.
Pro-tip: if your friend “hates you” for reporting their boyfriend’s sexual assault, time to get new Friends.
The one where Chandler denounces his transgender father (and everyone agrees)
How many offensive one-liners can you fit into a scene? A lot apparently, if this skit is anything to go by. Chandler’s treatment of his father is tough to watch, particularly when he travels to Vegas with Monica to see his dad in action. The couple’s discomfort with both the transgender and gay community is palpable, leading Charles Bing (Kathleen Turner) to wind up the butt of many derogatory jokes.
“Can we get our drinks please, waiter – uh, -tress!” Such an easy mistake to make, right?
The one where Ross assumes all male nannies are gay
Rachel hires a nanny for her and Ross’s baby (fine). The nanny is a man (fine). The nanny isn’t gay (fine). Yes, but he’s a man (yes, fine). A man who is also a nanny (also fine). But a man who is a nanny, and not gay?? (Yes, definitely very fine.)
Ross’s mind = blown!
The one where Ross can’t understand the concept of queer
Never is the homophobia more evident in Friends than when Ross’s ex-wife Carol (Jane Sibbett) is mentioned in any way, shape, or form. We realize that back in the 90s even just including gay couples in the narrative would’ve been considered revolutionary. But in 2018, following every mention of lesbianism with a malicious comment is unacceptable.
And no, Joey – having sex is not the only function of a woman.
The one where the guys can’t handle breastfeeding, because “Boobies!”
Ross: “Would you guys relax? This is the most beautiful and natural thing in the world.”
Joey: “Yeah we know, but there’s a baby suckin’ on it.”
The one where everyone fat-shames Monica
Monica’s fat-shaming, as told by a Friends love story:
- Love interest calls you fat.
- You get thin.
- Love interest now wants to get in your pants.
- You accidentally stab love interest in the foot while trying to seduce him.
- Love interest still wants to get in your pants (but only because now you’re thin).
- You and love interest end up having sex and consequently live happily ever after, occasionally looking back at your relationship to laugh about the time you were fat.
Ah, true love.
The one where Phoebe flashes her t**s to win at football (because there’s no way girls could win otherwise)
You can just imagine the writers spending hours and hours around the table trying to figure out a plotline where the women win at football – until that lightbulb moment hit: of course, distract the guys with naked breasts!
Because there’s no way a woman could slay at football using tact or skill. Duh.
The one where Joey joeys
There’s not any singular moment throughout the entire ten Friends seasons during which Joey doesn’t show himself to be a complete and utter sexist, discriminating perv. The phrase “How you doin’?” used to be funny and endearing. Now it’s just straightup creepy.
The one where Rachel hires an underqualified male assistant because she likes his butt
Doesn’t she work for Ralph Lauren? Surely this is an HR nightmare waiting to happen.
The one where Ross can’t handle Ben’s Barbie
Back in the day, Ross was considered the funniest, most unconventional character. In retrospect, he was basically a mouthpiece for conformity and outdated stereotypes. “Why is my boy playing with a Barbie?” Why is your son being controlled by a homophobic, gender-dictative paleontologist? (Okay, so the paleontologist bit isn’t bad, but the rest is unacceptable.)
I’m sorry, but who the fuck watched Friends and goes “You know what, that’s it, I’m offended”. That person should never watch anything on TV or even read books. Jesus Christ people are so sensitive. I bet the author of this article is from the US as well. Bunch of snowflakes the whole lot…June 12, 2020
Friends is a funny show but you can’t really ask its viewers to not voice their true opinions on some things. It’s a tv show, yes but it’s a tv show with wide viewers hip.July 31, 2020
I like the show and its characters – but they have displayed a lot of problematic behaviour and we can laugh at it but that doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge it for what it is.
Chandler Bing is my favourite character but that that doesn’t mean I don’t notice how he thinks only he is allowed to flirt when he’s dating Monica or how he gets alarmed when Joey enjoys learning new things from Janine – or when he dictates that Monica can never see Richard again because he says so.
Valid criticism can be accepted – even with the necessary allowances made for the show’s era and how it was seen as appropriate for it’s time.
Gilberto Walls Quiroga
I agree , everyone cries about everything. Especially in America, they suckAugust 2, 2020
Excuse me ? I cant even watch friends . It an awful homophobic transphobic sexist show that I cants stand to sit through anymore . Times have changed , but it does not mean that we shouldn’t recognise the awful parts of things we grew up on . I am not “too sensitive ” I am aware of the bullshit stereotypes and down right sexism homophobia and transphobia and don’t forget fatphobia this show has produced . And I am not okay with it xxAugust 14, 2020
your argument is not just completely contradicting but also so factually incorrect because the facts are : gays were incorporated, trans people, drag and the dominance of females (E.g, Monica) over the men. Stereo types will forever continue to be a thing because of how society is and so your argument has no factual backup. If you don’t like the show that’s fine. But the facts are they tried to incorporate every type of controversial topic out there and just also remember ITS A SITCOM.October 31, 2020
So let’s be clear at some points.November 3, 2020
1. No one homophobic. Ross was angry because he had loved Carol for 8 years and now she has turned out to be gay. He would have been equally disappointed if it would have been a man instead of Carol. Not to forget he walked with Susan to the aisle and got Susan and Carol married.
2. Chandler was a kid when he came to know that his parents are getting divorced. He hated his father being a trans because that was the reason his parents broke not because he was transphobic naturally. Even his parents behaved like jerks in his wedding.
3. The fact that Paolo harassed Phoebe was not considered funny. If you remember, she complained about it to Rachel later on and both the girls felt sorry for eachother. Even Rachel, who had met Phoebe just a few weeks ago at that time, trusted her and broke up with Paolo.
4. I agree that Chandler behaved like a jerk with Monica but later on he fell in love with her because they lived next to eachother so they got time to know eachother. If you think that it would not have been possible if Monica would have still been fat, then let me remind you that in an episode in season 6 where they all were thinking about how their life would have turned out if Rachel was married to Barry, Carol was not lesbian, Monica was still fat…..etc Chandler did began dating Monica even though she was shown fat.
Well, the show wasn’t really taking sides.It just potrayed the characters as they are.Not everyone is so open minded in real life.It was never said that what the characters said or did was politically correct.If you will like a show only if each and every aspect of it is right then I am afraid I feel sorry for you.F.R.I.E.N.D.S was a sitcom at a time when gay people were not even properly recognised or represented. Yet the show managed to include some very intimate moments which implied that gay people had their own seperate lives. Why else do you think it became the most liked sitcoms of all time? If people were offended by what they saw it surely could not have become the most popular show. There is always somebody to point out everything wrong with anything.September 10, 2020
The fact people say this show is problematic when they have incorporated every type of controversial topic out there from even 2020. Reactions were realistic to how people would feel in real life for example Chandlers reaction to his father being trans and having a bad relationship with him. Some children would be happy about it but some wouldn’t be able to comprehend finding out all those new things about their father at a young age and humiliated throughout their childhood as Chandler was, and then having his humour as a coping mechanism to it all. Anyone could be offended if they tried hard enough. You are being problematic for digging out the most ridiculous points. Trying to make a problem out of the lesbian wedding? As I recall that was the first series to have a gay wedding. Enjoy the show rather than pin pointing ever issue with it because if every show that tries to make it as universal as possible like this show did and all that people did was call it problematic, then we would all be watching kids shows.October 30, 2020
I’m from America, I’m gay, overweight and grew up on FRIENDS. Fortunately, I’m not a whining pansy like the rest of America. The show was brilliant in it’s time and still stands as a well written comedy. Like someone said previously, they portrayed realistic people. Stereotypes will always exist. I wish people here in the States would all strap on a pair and get over their stupid BS. They want to get butthurt over every little thing that happens, being called a name, whatever. Words are air. There is no physical pain. Simply ignore people and go on. As for the author, I knew before I saw her photo or name that the article was being written by a super liberal, cry baby female. Just like her crying about the guys in the show being distracted by boobs. DUH! They are straight men. That’s what men do; have for centuries and it’s not going to change any time soon.May 4, 2021
Patrick speaks facts
Couldn’t have said it better myself. What you said is exactly how i feel about the world. Everyone loves to feel offended so that they can have some excitement in their boring lives.May 9, 2021
It’s so ridiculous that this is even a topic of discussion. The show was clearly never meant to be offensive, it was hilarious at the time and still is, there was no bad intent there. If you are that sensitive and upset these days then don’t watch it. That’s why there are new shows created for this generation who can’t deal with anything. Some of the things people are pointing out as offensive just shows you are looking for controversy where none existed. The football game?? Really?? Ugh, Move on to something else and stop trying to take away the greatness from one of the best shows ever created.March 29, 2022