Watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. in 2018

I’m sure it’s not news to most that on New Year’s Day Friends was finally added to Netflix UK. It was my friend that first told me that it would be released, and as I was at her house at the time we looked on Netflix the next day, and there it was. We both absolutely love Friends, so this was very good news to us. I already knew that as soon as I got home, I’d be watching all ten seasons from the beginning for what was probably be the hundredth time, just to celebrate. I usually prefer to watch my box set, because I really do hate the fact that most episodes that are shown are edited. However, I don’t think I need to tell anyone that is as a big of a fan of the show how much of a big deal Friends on Netflix is. So I gladly went home after New Year’s, turned on my Apple TV and opened it up. I selected The Pilot episode and have been binge-watching every single one ever since then.

As I mentioned before, I have watched every single episode of Friends numerous times, but that did not make watching it again any less hilarious. I laughed at some of the scenes just as hard as I did the first time I saw them. So you can imagine my surprise when I went on Twitter not long ago, and came across an article about certain people that had either been watching Friends for the first time this year, or for the first time in a long time. It seems that some of these people have labelled Friends as incredibly “homophobic”, “sexist” and even “racist”. These same people have used certain scenes as a reference to back up their point, and I completely intend to address each and every one. But before I do, I would just like to say that I completely appreciate that we are all entitled to our own opinion, but I personally think that anyone that is left with this impression after watching Friends is absolutely ridiculous and clearly doesn’t like to laugh too much. Like I said, we are all entitled to our own opinion and that is mine. You are all ridiculous and perhaps comedies are not for you.

Before I make it clear why everyone who thinks this way is ridiculous, I also want to express my genuine surprise that there are some people who have made it up until 2018 and have not seen Friends properly until now. I mean…what? How? Where have you been the last 24 years? Just saying. And now, I will begin to address each and every single part of what these idiots seemed to be most offended about, and explain just how idiotic it is.

  1. Chandler’s homophobic jokes:

Firstly, Chandler was never actually making any jokes or comments that I deemed as offensive towards anyone in the gay community. His father left his mother when he was very young, and made the decision to become a woman. By this time, he is now a star of drag show in Vegas in his all-male burlesque, which is named “Viva Las Gaygas” as we find out in Season 4. Chandler also recounts several tales where he has at one point walked in on his father being intimate with different men. Now please sit there and tell me that this would not have any effect on you whatsoever, and that you would not find the idea that your father is now a woman just a little bit odd. Please do not misunderstand me; I am not saying that Chandler or his father had anything to be ashamed of, because he didn’t. If becoming a woman is something he felt like he needed to do, then of course he should have done it. But I am saying that if my father became a woman, it would feel strange at first and would take some getting used to. I mean, the Kardashians went through this exact same transition with Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner, and I bet you any money if you were to ask one of them about it that they would tell you it was pretty strange at first.
Secondly, from what I gathered from his jokes, Chandler was not ashamed of his father being a woman. It just seems that he was more embarrassed at how extravagant a woman he was when he was a child, which is fair enough. I would be embarrassed about my mum doing a couple of the things he mentioned when I was in school, so why wouldn’t he feel that way about his father? In the episode “The One With Chandler’s Dad”, Chandler tells stories of his dad going to all of his school games dressed as a different Hollywood starlet. He touches on one in particular tale where his father is dressed as Carmen Miranda, wearing a headdress with real fruit, which he later proceeds to hand out to his friends “as a healthy snack”. I mean come on, is this behaviour not extra for anybody? Chandler also mentioned that he slept with Mr. Garibaldi, who we can assume was a teacher in his school. Come on, really? Whether it is my father or my mother sleeping with my teacher, I would definitely be embarrassed and I’m sorry, but whoever says this wouldn’t affect them is lying.
Finally, Chandler’s humour is a reaction to his childhood, as he even admits that after his parents split up he would use humour as a defence mechanism. But I also view it as a bit of a contradiction to his personality, because Chandler is definitely not what you would call the “macho man” stereotype, which I think is the whole point of the joke. If Joey employed this kind of humour, then I could understand people taking it as offensive, because along with his long line of women he uses for his sexual needs, it can easily be interpreted that way. But maybe this is exactly why the writers chose to have Chandler possess this character trait…because when you understand the character, it is funny.

2. The Monica Fat Jokes

I literally do not have much to even say about this super-sensitivity. Yes, Monica was fat and yes her friends made fun of her for it. They were best friends, of course they took the piss out of her. That’s what friends do, and fat jokes are usually funny, so seeing as Friends was a comedy about best friends it would be pretty stupid not to include these. Monica’s obesity probably didn’t cause her any less pain than Ross’s failed marriages caused him. Were they all being insensitive whenever they took the piss out of him? No, because that’s what friends do. They tell cruel jokes sometimes, but it doesn’t matter because you know that beneath the ridicule there is real love underneath.

3. Ross – Not Wanting To Hire a Male Nanny/Ben to Play with a Doll

Once again, anyone that has a smidgen of a sense of humour and has watched both episodes entirely, should be able to tell that this is obviously a joke that isn’t meant to be taken seriously. In “The One With The Male Nanny”, Ross and Rachel hire a male nanny who is quite sensitive. Rachel absolutely loves him but Ross clearly does not like the idea, and feels very uncomfortable with having a sensitive man around. Anyone that is a fan of Friends and knows Ross well probably even laughed at that sentence alone. The premise is not meant to be taken seriously; it’s almost making fun of people who think in this way. Ross ends up speaking to the nanny and firing him, but then when Sandy (the nanny) asks Ross why he feels uncomfortable, Ross starts talking about his childhood and bursts into tears. This shows that the whole idea of Ross feeling this way was never meant to be taken seriously. It’s the exact same with the episode where Ross doesn’t like his son Ben playing with his Barbie. At the end of this episode, Monica reveals that Ross used to pretend to be a woman by dressing up in their mother’s clothes and hosting make-believe tea parties. How can you possibly see how these episodes conclude and think that Ross is homophobic, rather than just plain ridiculous!?

4. Rachel Hiring Tag Because He’s Attractive

Apparently nowadays this would be considered sexual harassment? A huge and inaccurate exaggeration in my opinion. Rachel is known for making a lot of silly mistakes throughout the show. Yes, hiring Tag was certainly one of them – I mean, why hire the guy you want to sleep but would get in trouble for doing so? I would personally have hired the more qualified assistant, and asked him to give me a call if he wants. But then again, I suppose he wouldn’t be so inclined to do so if you didn’t offer him the job. But I digress. As I said, Rachel hiring Tag was certainly foolish. But sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature in the workplace”. I do not believe Rachel ever behaved in this way. Her and Tag did end up in a relationship, but it was consensual and he made the first move. So yeah, still not harassment.

5. Lack of diversity for having only two characters on the show who weren’t white

I only have three points for this: firstly, the same can be said for a lot of shows, and not just during the 90’s, so why this only occurred to people now, and why Friends in particular was singled out, is beyond me. Secondly, there were three: Julie, who was Chinese and played by Lauren Tom, Charlie, who was African-American and played by Aisha Tyler, and Kristen, who was also African-American and played by Gabrielle Union. Finally, a lot of the recurring characters that starred in the show were quite well-known at the time. During that decade, there were a lot more white actors that were popular and frequently starred in television sitcoms. It’s not something I’m happy to state, but it’s the sad truth unfortunately. However saying that the writers of Friends are to blame for this, and actually going as far to accuse them of being racist, is completely ridiculous.

6. Monica & Richard’s Relationship

I have saved the best and most ridiculous one for last on this occasion. Apparently a lot of people (stupid people) seem to think that Monica dating a man who is her father’s age is “insensitive” in the light of the Harvey Weinstein #MeToo scandal. Okay, I have soooo many things to say, and sooooo many insults for these imbeciles, but I will simply just mention these two points. Firstly, this show was written in the early 90’s, whereas the Harvey Weinstein scandal only came to light very recently, so anyone who even opened their mouth to compare the two should feel nothing short of embarrassed. Secondly, Monica was an adult in her mid-20’s and chose to have a relationship with her father’s best friend, who yes, was a lot older than her. But they were both adults and it was completely consensual – so please, PLEASE can somebody tell me exactly how this is the same as a man using his position and his power to sexually abuse women? I’m being serious; I’m waiting for an explanation. Please can someone explain to me how these two things are the same?

It seems that every year people get more and more sensitive and I am pretty sure that eventually you won’t be able to say anything without offending someone. As my friend said when I discussed the article with her, “soon, even saying bless you when someone sneezes is going to be offensive”. But to be honest, I really don’t care. As glad as I am that society is evolving so much and becoming much more aware of these issues, I refuse to take it so seriously that I do not allow myself to enjoy things that I once found funny. So, in essence, Friends is the best, it is still hilarious and anyone who shares any of the opinions mentioned above is stupid. Some might say that is harsh, but that is just my opinion. That’s it from me.

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