A show that premiered in 1994, this American sitcom has consistently been one of the most popular shows since then. However, owing to the popularity of the show, we have successfully managed to overlook what the show stands for and how it failed to stand the test of time. Let us have a look at it.
- ‘Friends’ has been one of the most popular shows since it was released in 1994
- We have, very conveniently, managed to overlook the underlying themes of the show
- The show did not stand the test of time, and hence is facing a lot of criticism by millennials
“We were on a break!”You remember it? Don’t you?
It is one of the most popular shows and continues to trigger our nostalgia
Just like you, ‘Friends’ is my favourite show too. Just like you, it is my comfort show and every time I watch it, it brings back a wave of nostalgia, with all of Chandler’s sarcasm, and Monica’s cleaning obsession. But like any other hardcore ‘Friends’ fan, I turned a blind eye to all the critics, because, let us face it: Can we hear a word against ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’?
One of the landscape-altering shows that premiered in 1994 was ‘Friends’. Its been over 2 decades since, and it has re-premiered on Netflix now and continues to be one of the most loved sitcoms. Considering its lasting impact, every millennial has watched ‘Friends’ at least once, owing to the relativity it brings to the table. Revolving around the life of 6 twenty-something years besties, Ross and Monica Geller, Rachel Green, Chandler Bing, Joey Tribbiani, and Phoebe Buffay, the show managed to portray and create its style statement with a “cool” image in every millennial’s head.
But just because it is one of the most loved shows,doesn’t mean it’s perfect. But it took me about 5 times of watching ‘Friends’ to realise that some of the central underlying themes in ‘Friends’ include homophobia, sexual workplace harassment, and body shaming.
Looking at the show in 2020
Call it the appropriacy of the times, ‘Friends’ today wouldn’t be able to stand even one episode of the new generation viewers. Transphobia, homophobia, and sexism are not the immediate words that come to your mind when you think of ‘Friends’ but take a closer look. It is all there in this 10 season show, and surprisingly, far more than just once.
Where we are standing now, in 2020, it forces us to review every punchline the show ever made. The taunts made towards Monica’s weight, Ross’s incapability to accept that a nanny is a man, Chandler’s transphobic remarks at his dad, are just little instances of what we missed to notice from a different perspective.
Not to forget, the lack of diversity in the show with all the white supremacy visible in the all-white cast. The only black cast was Dr Charlie Wheeler. Moreover, the portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community in the show is way more problematic than we could imagine. Given that Ross’s first marriage ended because his pregnant wife came out as a lesbian, Ross has been extremely uncomfortable with it since. When Rachel decided to hire a man as a nanny, Ross constantly questions his sexuality just because no man, according to him, would work in such a female-dominated field.
When Ross sees Ben playing with a Barbie, he screams, “Why is my boy playing with a Barbie?” and convinces himself that his lesbian ex-wife and her partner forced him to. Joey constantly sexualizes the idea of two women being intimate as he believes that girls can only do it for the pleasure of a man. Last but not the least, Chandler keeps making callous jokes on his dad, who came out during his childhood. Though his sexuality isn’t confirmed, Chandler never fails to mention how mortified he is with it and the other characters never cease to tease him about his dad.
|Chandler: You’re turning into a woman.|
Joey: No, I’m not. Why would you say that? That’s just mean.
Chandler: Now I’ve upset you? What did I say?
Joey: It’s not what you said. It’s the way you said it … Oh, my God! I’m a woman!
Watch some of these moments here!
The biggest HR nightmare happens when Rachel decides to hire Tag as her assistant and not Hilda even though she was way more qualified than Tag, only because she found him attractive, owing to which she later starts dating him. Objectification was way too open and turned to borderline harassment when Ross told Rachel, “I can see you naked whenever I want. I just have to close my eyes”. Basically, the whole crew was just a mouthpiece for outdated stereotypes.
The part that we often tend to overlook is that we still watch ‘Friends’. 20 years later, it is still the most-watched show and a TRP booster. It is still one of the shows that has created a parameter for other shows, like ‘How I Met Your Mother’. It, till today, continues to be the show that gives you comfort because “I’ll be there for you”. And one of the main reasons could be because we are too used to doing this; so much so that it is the new normal for us. We are too used to objectifying women, tolerating harassment, homophobia, and body shaming. It’s 2020, and its time we break the cycle!