People are now slamming ‘Friends’ for fat-shaming, being homophobic, sexist and transphobic
There's a lot of hoo-roo going on around Friends lately, which seems to have had a resurgence on screens thanks to it recently being added to Netflix in the UK. Naturally, you hear everyone talking about it and doing the Ross "unagi" gesture and you want to rewatch your favourite seasons too.
And, incredibly, there are also people coming forward with their own commentary on the 90's and early 00's show who are watching it for the first time. Yep, people were pretty impressed with the fashion at the time and how good Rachel's hair is, although others were wondering if there wasn't enough space on the wardrobe budget and that's why they hardly ever seem to be wearing bras.
There are also some people watching or rewatching the show and thinking, "hang on, is it really okay to say that?". A lot of people are pointing out that the comedy show is homophobic, misogynistic and transphobic, all with a side of fat-shaming and the absence of any key POC characters.
One of the main gripes people had were with the constant "fat jokes" made around Monica when she was in high-school. Her overweight teenage self is constantly laughed at by the other characters while her extreme weight loss into the slim and desirable Monica is more or less glorified. As one Twitter user pointed out – it'd be highly contentious for shows nowadays to make similar jokes.
It's been labelled sexist for Ross not being able to understand the concept of a male nanny or for Joey's often sleazy behaviour (I love him, but come on). Others pointed to Chandler's transgender father who is constantly mislabelled and joked about, the running "joke" that Chandler is gay, or when Ross freaks out about Ben choosing to play with "girl toys", and so accused the show of being transphobic and homophobic.
But as that last person put it, at least the show was putting forward a transgender character, and just as with the lesbian marriage and co-parenting relationship between Carol and Susan – it was pretty ahead of its time in that regard.
The thing is is that back then, joking about these issues was just part of the humour of the show, and the fact that it was kind of discriminatory is what made everyone laugh. Now, a lot of people just don't find that kind of humour as funny anymore.
The show was produced in the early 90's, and times were different back then. Yes, while we can frown upon the show and call it insensitive, I feel it would be more productive to rather reflect on this new perspective people are looking at the world from.
Just the fact that people are noticing and pointing to these old ways of speaking and thinking about things shows how times have changed. Diversity is increasingly accepted and celebrated around the world, and dare I say we're more tolerant and open-minded about things now than we were back then. And isn't that actually a really good thing?