“Friends: The Reunion,” overflowing with emotion, humour, and joyful tears, delves deep into ambiguous endings, the casting process, and many other topics. After seventeen long years, since the finale of Friends entitled The Last One (2004), Ross (David Schwimmer), Monica (Courtney Cox), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Joey (Matt Le Blanc) were all together once again, delighting fans worldwide. But, as we appreciate the long-awaited reunion, the world is a different place. Here are some of the flaws with our favourite show that wouldn’t have been acceptable on TV today…
1. Fat Shaming.
Fat shaming is present in the show through various moments, but it is on stark display with Fat Monica’. Monica had been overweight for years, and even though she wasn’t when the series started, the characters teased her for it. And in season 6, episode 15, “The One That Could Have Been”, Monica never lost weight and so had never had sex until Chandler chose to do it for both their sakes. As if she could not have sex if she were still fat. Was fat Monica’s worth lower than that of “thin Monica”? They present her as a loner and a “failure” with childish behaviour.
Fat shaming is very present through different characters, such as when Chandler dumped his girlfriend because she was putting on too much weight.
2. Toxic Masculinity
Even though Friends was the first show on television to handle specific unconventional topics, they did it poorly for the most part. The show’s relationship with toxic masculinity is by far the most intriguing issue to analyze.
So, let’s look at one incident, in particular, to understand this better—season 9, episode 6: The One with the Male Nanny. After sifting through plenty of other unsuitable candidates, Rachel eventually finds the perfect nanny for Ross’s daughter Emma. Still, there’s only one problem: he’s portrayed by a man, Freddie Prinze Jr. Ross is opposed to the notion of a male nanny, stating that the man is overly sensitive and that he does not want him to look after Emma. But this does not stop here; Ross asks him, “Are you gay?” because he can’t fathom wanting to be a nanny without being gay.
Ross’s jealousy of the “manny” is hinted at throughout the episode, but the primary issue appears to be Ross’s sexist assumption that caregivers should be only women.
3. Objectification of Women
The objectification of women is omnipresent in the show. Each character did it at least once, but the most related to women objectification is Joey Tribbiani played by Matt LeBlanc. The language used by the male characters when talking about women is such that it reduces women to food. For example, when Ross was doubtful after his first divorce whether he will be able to love again or not, Joey sweeps him to explain that “There are many ladies in the world, just like ice cream.”. He continues by advising his friend to “Grab a spoon” and eat.
4. Six White Main Characters (No Diversity)
Friends had a diversity problem, and it is obvious: a sitcom based in New York with an all-white cast interacting with other white characters. When they engage with a non-white person, that character exists exclusively to add to a white person’s character.
Ross had both an Asian and a black girlfriend, but neither were stand-alone characters; instead, they were used to assist the white protagonists in discovering themselves. Rachel, for example, tried all she could to ruin Ross’s relationship with Julie so that she could be with Ross. So the characters were added as a twist to the tale.
We Did Enjoy It Though…
“Friends” is, without a doubt, the most popular sitcom in history. There isn’t a single member of Generation X who doesn’t remember the first time Ross and Rachel kissed or that time that “they were on a break”. When Friends was released, A lot of the issues outlined in this article weren’t considered as problematic as they are today. We need to remember that Friends is a product of its time, and maybe take the jokes in the spirit they were meant.
Anyway, be sure to share your views and memories of the show down in the comments below.