HomeOur ObsessionsCentral jerk: All the reasons why ‘Friends’ is problematic AF

Central jerk: All the reasons why ‘Friends’ is problematic AF

Let’s look at the most offensive moments in ‘Friends’, arguably the most popular sitcom of all time. Fast forward to 2019 with us to examine the cringe.

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.”

‘Nuff said.

The one where everyone fat-shames Monica

Monica’s fat-shaming, as told by a Friends love story:

  1. Love interest calls you fat.
  2. You get thin.
  3. Love interest now wants to get in your pants.
  4. You accidentally stab love interest in the foot while trying to seduce him.
  5. Love interest still wants to get in your pants (but only because now you’re thin).
  6. 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.)

Share With:

Daisy Webb is an outspoken, opinionated writer with a passion for all things horror and cult comedy. When she's not watching films, she likes listening to music, cooking too much food, and writing short stories with unhappy endings.