These ‘Friends’ Episodes Would Be Very Controversial in 2019

The series finale of Friends aired on May 6, 2004, which doesn’t seem that long ago. But when you think about how quickly the world is changing, it might as well have been a lifetime ago. The social media age makes it easier than ever to understand fan reactions in real time. Plus, there’s an overarching sensitivity in society that can’t be denied.

Watch old movies and you’ll see lots of things you would never encounter in modern shows and movies. Everything from smoking in building to blatant racism and sexism used to be commonplace. But the truly surprising thing is how even a show that debuted in 1994 seems so far removed from modern customs.

Which episodes of Friends featured totally cringe-worthy content by today’s standards? Read on to find out.

Friends cast
Friends cast | Warner Bros. Television

The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding

One of the biggest regrets show creator Marta Kauffman has now is how she and David Crane portrayed Chandler’s transgender father, Helena. Kauffman recently opened up in an interview saying she regrets all the jokes she made about the character, who was played by Kathleen Turner.

Kauffman told USA Today, “I think we didn’t have the knowledge about transgender people back then, so I’m not sure if we used the appropriate terms. I don’t know if I would have known those terms back then. I think that’s the biggest [regret].”

Monica and Chandler's wedding
Monica and Chandler’s wedding | Danny Feld/NBCU Photo Bank

In the one with Monica and Chandler’s wedding, everyone on the show continuously uses incorrect labels and makes jokes about Helena’s appearance. They also constantly refer to the character by her (male) birth name rather than calling her Helena.

Also, Rachel believes the character’s name is Amanda and quips, “Oh, I get it! A man…duh!”

The One With the Male Nanny

Transgenderism isn’t the only concern on Friends. In the episode where Rachel tries to hire a male nanny for their daughter Emma, Ross can’t handle the switch in gender roles and makes his feelings clear to her.

In the episode, Ross says: “That’s the problem, Rachel. He’s TOO sensitive! What kind of a man makes delicate French cookies?!”

Ross on Friends
Ross and the male nanny | Danny Feld/NBCU Photo Bank

The whole episode is based on Ross’ reaction to the male nanny’s “feminine” behaviors, which aren’t even that strange by today’s standards. The only strange thing is observing Ross laughing at them.

The One With the Metaphorical Tunnel

Ross had multiple issues with gender roles throughout the series. In one episode, he tries to convince his son Ben to play with traditionally masculine toys so people won’t think he’s gay—or so he won’t “turn gay.”

Ben just wants to play with a Barbie doll while Ross attempts to encourage him to interact with G.I. Joe dolls and other so-called boy toys. Rather than convincing Ben to be “more like a boy,” it just proves how narrow-minded the character of Ross is.

Ross on Friends
Ross as a dad | Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The One With the Nap Partners

Remember the episode when Joey and Ross fall asleep cuddled together and declare it the best nap they’ve ever had? Joey keeps trying to convince Ross to nap with him again, but Ross refuses, fearing that the gang will think they’re gay.

This episode wouldn’t be well received in modern society because the whole bit seems super homophobic and over-the-top. People should just nap with anyone they want to, right?