‘Friends’: Which Elements of the Show Aged The Worst?
Friends is in its final days on Netflix. The beloved comedy will be heading to a brand new streaming platform in May 2020, when HBO Max launches. The years it has spent on Netflix has given the show something of a revival. Just like Frasier and Gilmore Girls, Friends has been introduced to a brand new audience. While that has been a mostly positive thing, there are a few aspects of the show that haven’t aged particularly well, especially when viewed by a much more politically correct and informed generation. So, which aspects of the show are now offensive, that were viewed as totally okay back in the 1990s and early 2000s?
Fat Monica was a punchline and nothing more
Monica Geller, portrayed by Courtney Cox, was one of the show’s most interesting characters. Her obsessive thinking and rigidity was a punchline, much like Sheldon Cooper’s rigidity was a storyline on The Big Bang Theory. Fans don’t have an issue with that, but her backstory has some viewers livid.
Her backstory has caused some backlash, or, at the very least, the way her backstory is portrayed has. Monica was overweight as a teen, and Friends writers decided to tell that story in a series of flashbacks. Instead of telling the story of a dramatic weight loss for the betterment of Monica’s health, they made her weight issues a punchline, and sort of indicates that she wasn’t worthy of attention when she was fat.
Entertainment Weekly notes that Friends used Fat Monica as a way to fat shame an entire generation. Today, the “reliable” laughs that came from Fat Monica dancing wouldn’t be nearly as reliable. Body positivity is a movement today, and the fat-shaming simply didn’t age well.
Homophobia seems to be a punchline, too
Friends may have been groundbreaking by telling the story of a same-sex couple, even though Carol and Susan don’t appear in the show regularly. While everyone seems pretty okay with the ladies, the characters seem to have an entirely different take on relationships between two men. At one point, Joey is desperate to try kissing a man so he can land an acting role, but none of his friends are willing to accommodate him. There are several comments throughout the show that the guys, specifically, view homosexuality as gross.
Chandler’s father, who is gay, is also used as a punchline, and Chandler appears to be completely ashamed of him. While Chandler’s feelings are complex about the issue, the outright transphobia wouldn’t fly with today’s more openminded television viewers. The writers could have really used the backstory to delve into the complex feelings that may arise when a parent comes out to a child, but they didn’t dare touch the concept back then.
Joe’s character was a massive cliché
Everyone seemed to find it funny when Joey, the good looking Italian, used and discarded women regularly. In fact, his many conquests became a source of pride and a talking point on the show, but rarely was it seen as a bad thing. Instead, it was viewed as “boys will be boys.”
During the 1990s, this might have been perfectly okay, but people are seeing the storyline differently now. Many feel bad for the character, who was pushed into the stereotypical box of a good-looking guy who is a womanizer through and through.
Others have a more serious issue with Joey’s womanizing ways. With seven sisters and a mother that he clearly adores, one would think Joey would have more respect for the ladies. Time and time again, he shows that he doesn’t value women as anything but a commodity.