Was ‘Friends’ Actually a Good TV Show?

Friends TV show
The cast of ‘Friends’ | (NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images}

A recent op-ed for Buzzfeed titled “Actually, ‘Friends’ Is Terrible” recently gained attention on social media. The famous show turns 25 in 2019, and for the anniversary Friends will be screened in theaters around the U.S. Regarded as one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time, the op-ed sparked a discussion among viewers. Was Friends a good TV show?

‘Friends’ did not age well

Friends aired from 1994 to 2004. One of the arguments in the op-ed is that the show is flawed and no longer fits with the modern times. Despite being one of the most beloved shows of all time, the show is filled with transphobia, homophobia, and fat-shaming. Friends also lacked a diverse cast.

“Chandler’s father is inexplicably and unnecessarily a drag queen, played by the cis actor Kathleen Turner, and is the source of many an anti-trans punchline. As a teenager, Monica was fat and that’s it, that’s the joke…,” reads the op-ed.

The op-ed in Buzzfeed is not the first piece to criticize Friends.

“Chandler, identified in Season 1 as having a ‘quality’ of gayness about him, is endlessly paranoid about being perceived as insufficiently masculine… In retrospect, the entire show’s treatment of LGBTQ issues is awful,” wrote Ruth Graham in Slate.

The TV show has continuity issues

Friends ran for 10 years, which is quite long for the average TV show. When the show became available on Netflix, several fans noticed the show’s plot inconsistencies. Some of the inconsistencies are small. For example, in one episode Monica calls Chandler her “soulmate” in their wedding vows, but a few episodes later she tells Chandler she does not believe in soulmates.

Most of the show’s small continuity issues involve jokes and are not major plot points. In one episode Ross tells the group he doesn’t like ice cream even though he eats it on the show. Another episode revolves around Chandler not being able to cry even though he’s openly cried in past episodes. Other inconsistencies are related to props moving in scenes or wardrobe changes.

However, there are bigger continuity issues involving the characters’ ages and birthdays.

“… in Season 7 Rachel is shown to be the last member of the group to turn 30. However, according to ‘The One With The Birth’ in Season 1, Joey is the youngest at 25… Oh, and there are various references to Ross being 29 in seasons 3, 4 AND 5, despite multiple Thanksgivings, Christmases, and other events that prove time has passed,” reads an article in Cosmopolitan.

In Friends, Rachel and Chandler are introduced on three separate occasions. Once in the pilot and two different times in flashbacks. Fans also realized that based on the timeline of the show, Rachel was pregnant for over a year. In the seventh season of Friends, it’s revealed Ross slept with a cleaning lady in college despite claiming in the first season that he lost his virginity to his ex-wife, Carol.

Viewers of the TV show ‘Friends’ have mixed feelings about the op-ed

Since Friends came out on Netflix, viewers of the show have mixed feelings about its quality. The release of the op-ed caused the debate to resurface. Some viewers never found the show funny even when it aired originally, while some fans still find it funny. Other fans find it difficult to watch nowadays even if they enjoyed it in the past, while some still enjoy Friends.

“you want to complain about friends, but show me a tv show from 1994-2004 that didnt try and follow the same type of humor or structure, while were at it show me a show today that is not only good, funny & can also last 10 years,” wrote a fan on Twitter.

“The ‘Friends hasn’t aged well’ think pieces are always weird to me because it was never anything more than a popcorn show in the first place,” a Twitter user wrote.

“… it’s a tv show I find comforting and always know I can watch it when I need something easy to watch,” another fan tweeted.

“Totally agree with this take. Caught an episode of Friends the other day and it was beyond awful. The material is embarrassingly juvenile and dated,” wrote a Twitter user.

Will the debate about ‘Friends’ ever be solved?

There is no denying Friends is a flawed TV show. Objectively, the material used in the show is dated and does not fit with the current progressive times. Despite being one of the most popular sitcoms of all time, there are varying degrees of continuity issues.

Still, all of the actors in the main cast give stellar performances and had irreplaceable chemistry. Even though the show ended in 2004, fans of the show still find it comforting to watch. It’s been 15 years since Friends ended, and viewers are still debating the quality of the show. Because part of TV involves fans’ subjective opinions, it’s likely this debate will never be fully resolved.