Apparently Millennials, the ever picked on and blamed section of society, hate the favourite US series, Friends. This is almost every headline I’ve seen about the series since it started showing on Netflix. Running for ten years from 1994-2004, have things changed too much for the show to be relatable now?
What’s wrong with Friends?
Friends has been called sexist, homophobic, and transphobic amongst many other complaints about the 90s sitcom. But is this really the case? Is it a sign of change with time? Or are the new audience more sensitive than us original fans?
A few examples that have annoyed people when watching Friends:
- Ross tries to stop Ben playing with a Barbie.
- Ross insults the lesbian relationship between his ex-wife and her partner.
- Rachel hired a guy just because she fancied him.
- Monica is with a much older guy and people find it creepy.
- Monica was picked on for being overweight in the past.
- The friends make gay jokes about Chandler.
- Ross doesn’t like having a male nanny for his child.
- Chandler makes jokes about his drag queen dad.
- There’s not a diverse enough cast.
- Chandler is annoyed when people assume he’s gay.
Feel angry at Friends yet?
Is is that wrong?
Here’s where I think people are going wrong. In the series, all of these things do come up, but they only do as a way to explore different characters that we might meet in every day life.
It’s a sitcom so will never be the most realistic of shows, but the characters have to be to an extent. I actually think Friends is really progressive for it’s time. Hear me out!
They can’t make all characters agree with each other, as there would be no way to explore common societal issues and debates. How boring would a show be if everyone was on board with everything? How realistic would that be? We have come a long way since the 90s, but there are still people out there who don’t agree with certain lifestyles and Friends explores them all. For a sitcom in the 90s to have gay relationships, feminist women, drag queens and all of the complex relationships between families, it’s a great way to make the show relatable, but also opens itself up for controversy and discussion.
I agree that baby Ben should be allowed to play with Barbie, but all the show is doing is telling the story from different perspectives. I actually respect that it does that. There are a lot of people saying that they now hate Ross. Small reminder that it’s just a character created by the writers! I think it’s great that they have managed to have an uptight character put into a series of situations he is not comfortable with. The best bit is that all of his friends call him out on it. Surely that’s progressive and not as backwards as the show is being made out to be?
I think the worst of the above list is the constant laughing at Monica for being fat, because I’m sure at the time it made people feel a bit rubbish about themselves. But I also think that when people make big lifestyle changes in real life, there are a lot of things brought up from their past. Chandler hates his Dad because he found him cheating on his Mum with a pool boy. Nobody hates the lesbians, but Ross is bound to be bitter he was left for someone else, whoever it was. It’s true that the main cast is not exactly diverse, but this happened in a lot of shows back then, no matter the race. And wouldn’t you be annoyed if somebody assumed your sexuality was the opposite of what it is?
I really do think that people are looking for issues more than we used to, and in these politically correct times, everything can be taken offensively. I find myself impressed that the show has so much in the way of characters and storyline, and that’s why it’s making great viewing all over again. I believe Friends was a forward-thinking look at modern relationships in the 90s and I personally want it to stay because no matter how much things change and move forward, I don’t think we should erase history. It was relatable then, it is still relatable for some now, and one day it will be a great look back on society and relationships in the 90s to early 2000s.
What do you think? Has Friends passed its sell-by date or do you still love it like you used to? Are you new to it and finding it offensive?