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10 Ways Friends Aged Poorly

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Friends is one of the most iconic sitcoms of the 2000s. The series, which aired for a decade, created certain archetypes and trends that are still alive on television. On top of that, Friends gave fans some of TV’s most emblematic moments, which made the sitcom become a cultural staple.


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However, as time passes, it becomes more obvious that Friends also portrays some of the worst aspects of its time. Many jokes in Friends depend on what now society considers offensive, especially regarding gender roles, relationships, and physical appearances.

10/10 Susan And Carol Are The Punchline Of Too Many Jokes

Susan, Carol and Ross in Friends

One of the most recurrent gags in Friends is the fact that Ross’s ex-wife, Carol, is a lesbian. The series does a decent job of portraying a healthy lesbian couple at an epoch when this was uncommon. However, this loses credit because Susan and Carol are often the punchlines of many jokes.

The jokes are usually aimed at the fact that Ross “lost” against another woman, which, in a sense, invalidates Carol’s sexuality as if it only exists to make Ross’s life miserable. This says a lot about what the main characters think of LGBTQ+ people.

9/10 There Are Too Many Jokes About The Characters’ Physical Appearance

Chandler insults Monica

Friends comes from a time when body positivity wasn’t even close to becoming a serious conversation. Because of this, the writers often indulged in low-hanging fruit jokes about the characters’ appearances, especially when it comes to Monica being overweight when she was younger.

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These types of jokes are unacceptable nowadays, and they make a lot of modern audiences uncomfortable. There are many other similar ‘jokes’. They also make fun of Rachel for getting a nose job and of Janice’s laugh. It’s worth noticing that most of these digs are aimed at women. In general, Friends makes a point to argue that women’s value depends on their beauty.

8/10 Ross Is A “Nice Guy”

Ross Geller gets angry at a coworker for eating a sandwich in the TV show Friends

One of the central storylines in Friends is the will-they-won’t-they relationship between Ross and Rachel. From the very first season, these two characters share a mutual attraction that grows into love but is often disrupted by drama. Still, in the last season, Friends gives them a happy ending.

However, on a rewatch, it’s easy to notice that Ross’s attitude wasn’t exactly that of a romantic hero. Ross is a walking red flag: he’s incredibly jealous and often throws tantrums when Rachel interacts with other men. Additionally, he’s misogynistic. More than once in Friends, he believes he’s better than other women just because he has a Ph.D.

Ross and Monica Geller performing The Routine in Friends

In one of the most disturbing gags of Friends, Monica and Ross realize that they kissed each other when they were younger in the middle of a confusion. At a college party, Ross kissed Monica thinking she was Rachel asleep on top of a pile of clothes.

The moment that Ross and Monica realize is played as a joke, but Friends doesn’t explore the fact that Ross planned to kiss a sleeping Rachel without her consent. Since then, there’s been a lot of information about consent, and this joke really aged poorly under new perspectives.

6/10 Friends Makes Fun Of Chandler’s Transgender Parent

Chandler's parent in friends singing

One of the most common jokes in Friends is that Chandler doesn’t really get along with his parents. His mother, Nora, is emotionally distant, and she has no qualms about discussing her sex life in front of her son. Chandler’s other parent is the drag queen known as Helena Handbasket.

Friends did a terrible job at portraying Helena and her sexual orientation. Friends simply assumed a drag queen is the same as a trans woman, which is a rude misconception. Additionally, Helena was the butt of many jokes regarding Chandler’s sexuality, as if having LGBTQ+ parents should ‘traumatize’ people.

5/10 Phoebe’s Life Is Full Of Very Dark Details

Phoebe and Ursula in Friends.

Throughout Friends, the writers pepper details here and there about Phoebe’s complicated life before meeting the gang. With no further explanation, Phoebe says that she was homeless, has committed some crimes, and didn’t have the chance to go to High School.

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Generally, Phoebe’s lack of context for some of her comments is hilarious. However, when thinking seriously about her life, she went through some heavy stuff that shouldn’t have become a recurrent gag in the series. Phoebe clearly had a difficult upbringing, but her friends barely acknowledged it.

4/10 There Are A Couple Of Problematic Power Dynamic Relationships

Rachel and Tag in Rachel's office , and Elizabeth and Ross hugging

Throughout ten seasons, Friends follows the love life of the six friends. While they have some of the cutest relationships in sitcoms, they also have some problematic pairings. For example, Ross dates his college student, Rachel has a relationship with her assistant, who is also a bit younger than she is, and Monica dates her wealthy boss, Pete.

In general, these relationships are problematic because they include power dynamics that shouldn’t be ignored. Especially when thinking about Ross, it’s evident he abused his position as a teacher to date a student who was at least 10 years younger than him.

3/10 Femininity Is Often Mocked

Two pannel: Chandler wearing lipstick and Joey amused, and Chandler in the bath drinking wine

As with a lot of comedy series from the ’90s, Friends loves to make comedic situations based on conventional gender roles, but it especially makes fun of men who have, what society considers, feminine traits. This brand of misogynistic humor has become outdate, but in its prime, Friends totally abused it.

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Many of the storylines around the three male characters focus on this. For example, the fact that Joey starred in a lipstick commercial is a big joke for Chandler, Ross’s high-pitched voice whenever he’s scared is one of his most famous traits, and generally, Chandler’s emasculated feelings are central to Friends.

2/10 Men Think They Can Control Women

Ross walks in on Joey and Rachel kissing in Friends

A harsh reality of being a sitcom fan is that they’re famous for glorifying toxic traits in relationships. These series have made society believe that being possessive in relationships is cute when, in reality, it’s very problematic. The male characters in Friends tend to be possessive of women, even when they aren’t their significant others.

For instance, Ross is upset about the idea of Monica dating Chandler, as if he has a say in her personal life. Joey indulged in the same behavior with his sisters. Friends tries to pass these attitudes as caring and protective, but it’s actually very controlling. All of these women are adults who know what they’re doing.

1/10 There’s Barely Any Diversity In The Show

The six main characters of Friends together

Like most shows from the ’90s, Friends barely includes POC characters. In fact, the six main characters are all white. The lack of racial diversity is honestly unforgivable. New York is a very diverse city, so it’s completely unbelievable that the main characters barely knew people of different races.

Fortunately, TV shows now make more of an effort to tell different types of stories, but Friends didn’t really try to do this. Even though it was bad enough that Friends wasn’t diverse at the time, audiences from 2022 know better, which has negatively impacted the way people perceive Friends now.

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