More than 25 years after its debut, Friends is still so popular that it was one of the most-watched sitcoms on Netflix before it moved to HBOMax earlier this year. While fans anxiously wait for the long-promised Friends reunion, it’s interesting to look back on the iconic sitcom and see just how well it has aged.
Should cringeworthy moments in Friends result in the show being “canceled” in 2020? Or — since the show began in 1994 — should we just call it a moot point? Here are 10 things about Friends that wouldn’t fly today.
Fans will remember that Chandler’s (Matthew Perry) dad — Charles Bing/Helena Handbasket — had a Las Vegas all-male burlesque called “Viva Las Gay-gas,” thanks to the memorable episode The One With the Embryos.
As Screen Rant points out, it’s still not clear if Chandler’s dad (Kathleen Turner) was dressed in drag or identified as a woman. Either way, the character was always the butt of a joke, and Chandler was ashamed and embarrassed by his father. Not once did they take the character seriously, and they never gave Chandler’s dad the respect he deserved.
5. Incest jokes and storylines
Monica’s (Courteney Cox) first kiss with a mystery man who turned out to be her brother Ross (David Schwimmer). Then, in season 7, Ross tried to hook up with his cousin Cassie (Denise Richards).
At the beginning of that episode, Ross and Monica have a conversation about how long it had been since each one had sex. And, in another episode, Monica enthusiastically yells “Hell yeah!” when asked if she wanted to watch a Ross and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) sex tape.
4. All of the relationship age-gaps
One common trend in Friends was characters dating people who were either much older or much younger than they were. Monica dates a high school student early on in the series. Then, she later dates Richard (Tom Selleck) who was her eye doctor growing up and 21 years her senior. She also dates Richard’s son!
Also, when Ross becomes a college professor he ends up dating Elizabeth Stevens (Alexandra Holden), one of his students.
While Friends was the first sitcom to feature a lesbian wedding, it still had serious issues with homophobia. Lesbians were considered cool and unique, but it was not the same for homosexual men.
A running joke in the series was that Chandler was worried he might be gay. And, as Screen Rant notes, they set up the gag in a way that made it sound like being gay is a bad thing. Chandler gets offended when he is mistaken as gay, which was one of the many times Friends used LGBTQ identities as punchlines.
On the other hand, when Monica and Rachel offer to make out for one minute in front of Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Chandler to get their apartment back, the guys agree. After witnessing the makeout session, they agree that it was “totally worth it.”
Fans didn’t see the makeout session, just like they never saw Ross’ ex-wife Carol (Jane Sibbett) kiss her partner Susan (Jessica Hecht).
2. Gender Stereotypes
Gender stereotypes are common throughout the ten seasons of Friends. They often made jokes or comments about women being more emotional than men. They also implied that men were overall more sexual than women. Also, the men in the show are never seen cooking or cleaning. Instead of helping, they tend to sit and watch TV.
We should also mention the fact that Ross freaked out about hiring a male nanny (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) for Emma. He even says, “What kind of job is that for a man – a nanny?” And, he didn’t like that his ex-wife let his son play with dolls.
1. Fat Monica
Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman admitted last year that if she was writing Friends with “2019 glasses on,” she would have done things differently. Most notably, she would have left out all of the running jokes about fat Monica.
“I wish I had my 2019 glasses on when we did a lot of it, so there are things I look back on and go, ‘Yeah, if I had known better, I would have done things differently,'” the producer told Us Weekly. “But I didn’t.”
Meanwhile, co-creator Kevin Bright doesn’t have those same regrets. He says the show is simply a product of its time.
“No, because those are things about now and those weren’t the things about then,” he explained. “I think we broke plenty of new ground. You’d never seen a gay wedding on television before Friends. You’d never seen blatant sexuality on a sitcom before Friends. So I think we broke our ground.”