‘Friends’: The Character ‘Fat Monica’ Is 1 of the Most Controversial in Series History

Friends is one of the most iconic comedies of all time, and to this day fans can re-watch the entire series over and over. But not every storyline has stood the test of time. In fact, certain details of the show are so controversial that series co-creator Marta Kauffman said she regrets including them.

One of the most cringe-worthy bits on the show comes via “Fat Monica,” a past version of Monica Geller. Though it seemed funny at the time, current fans can’t help but notice how the popular character is treated poorly throughout the series. Courteney Cox loved playing Fat Monica. But everyone else believes the storyline was in poor taste.

Fat Monica
“The One Where the Stripper Cries”|NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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Who is Fat Monica on the show ‘Friends’?

The present-day version of Monica, one of the main characters on the show, was incredibly thin. But through a series of flashbacks from her youth, we find out that Monica was much heavier in her youth. Writers use Monica’s fluctuating body weight as a source of mockery and jokes that simply wouldn’t pass in today’s more sensitive atmosphere.

Critics point out that including the Fat Monica scenes isn’t just fatphobic, it’s also lazy storytelling and a cheap way to get laughs. The character, who’s played by Cox wearing a fat suit, is often seen stuffing her face full of food, licking her fingers, and making a mess while eating. She doesn’t represent an actual overweight person — she’s an overexaggerated caricature of one.

‘Friends’ treated Fat Monica in an offensive and unrealistic way

Fat Monica and Joey
Fat Monica and Joey | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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It wasn’t just that Fat Monica acted in a silly way to get cheap laughs. The character also barely resembled an actual overweight person living in America. For example, in the episode “The One That Could Have Been,” writers imagine life for Monica if she’d never shed the weight. In the episode, she remains a virgin for the longest in the group, indicating overweight people don’t have sex as often as thin people.

And then there’s the whole Fat Monica dancing bit (with a doughnut in hand, of course). Entertainment Weekly pointed out that rather than using her dancing to promote healthy self-esteem at any size, the dancing is included to make the audience laugh in derision. It’s just another example of mocking someone’s size for the sake of a laugh.

Monica is only valued as a person when she loses weight

There’s a particularly awkward moment when Joey sees an old video of overweight Monica and bursts out, “Some girl ate Monica!” Over the course of the series, it’s increasingly clear that no one sees Fat Monica as having the same value as “regular Monica” and that the character has infinitely more value once she’s lost weight.

There are countless times that Monica’s brother Ross uses Monica’s former weight as an insult — “You used to be fat!” he counters in many arguments. Instead of seeing Monica as a person with feelings no matter what her size, the jokes about her weight are ruthless, rude, and constant.

Courteney Cox loved playing Fat Monica

Fat Monica | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

One person who never had a problem with Fat Monica and still defends her is the actress who played her. When asked about her favorite episodes, Cox said, “I loved playing overweight Monica because I felt so free. I could dance, just sit up and dance and have no problem at all. I did love it. Those are really good episodes.”

She even changed her Instagram profile picture to one of fat Monica for a while.