So guess who’s rewatching Friends? And, like every other human on the planet, I noticed just how product-its-timey the whole thing is. I mean, really, the show is riddled with a lovely blend of sexism, homophobia, and—
Actually, you probably don’t need me to tell you. I don’t think I could claim to be at all surprised, and when you watch Friends you just sort of have to take it with all its offensive jokes and attitudes and use your intelligent human brain to acknowledge that these attitudes aren’t okay.
I’m not here to highlight all these attitudes and jokes in a blog post. I don’t have that much time and energy right now (seriously guys, the video entitled “Homophobic Friends,” which contains all the shows “let’s laugh at the gays” sort of jokes is fifty minutes long), I can talk briefly about something else that you might notice if you watch the show for any length of time:
All the friends are assholes.
No, really. While they seem like they’d be fun—for a while—it would probably actually be pretty tough to be friends with any of these people. But instead of me just saying so and insisting they’re awful, let me give you a few examples for each friend, and that’ll work out better maybe possibly. (Though I will say, of course, that some of them are worse than others.)
“WE WERE ON A BREAK!”
Ross Geller is probably the obvious one here. See, regardless of where you fall in the great They Were On A Break Debate, Ross sucks. It’s really irrelevant whether or not they were on a break anyway, as he had sex to get revenge on Rachel after he assumed she was sleeping with a coworker—a coworker that Rachel had assured Ross multiple times she liked platonically, and who was indeed only there to comfort her. (The fact that Rachel has to hide that her friend is visiting it very telling, and very unfortunate.)
In general, Ross comes across as kind of creepy with relationships. Sure, maybe he was sweetly in love with Rachel for years … or maybe he was kind of a creep. While he pined after Rachel for years, they’re not exactly shown to converse much, which I’m told is relatively important when you’re dating. Aside from which, his relationship with Rachel was never healthy. He was jealous and possessive (and not just with Rachel, if you watch his other relationships) and they have next to nothing in common on which to maintain their relationship.
Plus, do you remember how Ross had that “I Hate Rachel Green” Club? Nice one, Ross. Nice one.
And while we’re on the subject of Dr Geller: Shout out to his parenting, eh?
Ross’s son, Ben, is in what? Less than twenty episodes? (Somebody who knows the show better than me: Feel free to give me the exact number, as I’ve come across conflicting numbers.) Not to mention that Ross is appalled to see his son playing with a Barbie (though I had an Action Man, and I guess you could argue that it messed me up) and he’s weirded out by the idea of a male nanny. Really, Ross’s entire character is built on how insecure he is.
Oh, and you might have noticed that after Emma, Ross’s second child, is a thing, Ross seems to forget that Ben exists. The poor kid is never seen or even mentioned again. One fan theory suggests that ex-wife Carol, sick of Ross’s antics, took away his visitation rights. And when we examine the fact that he barely seemed to see the kid, ignored him at Chandler and Monica’s wedding (ignoring a deleted scene), and the fact that Ross is a man who tried to hire a man to scare Phoebe and Rachel … well, could you really blame her?
Remember that time Ross made a fake Ben to get out of helping Rachel pack?
“THAT’S OKAY. GIRLS TEND NOT TO LIKE ME.”
Speaking of expert parenting, Rachel returned from maternity leave having never changed a single one of Emma’s diapers. The show likes to make idle “Oh she’s the self-centred prom queen” jokes but, I mean, jesus Rachel.
I’m sorry, but Rachel Green is a very selfish person.
If you don’t want to marry Barry (I phrased it that way so it would rhyme, as we like to truly explore the depths of comedy on this blog) isn’t what she wanted to do? Great. Live your own life, Rache. Waiting until the actual wedding to leave him was kind of a dick move. As was showing up at Ross’s wedding to Emily, by the way. On-again-off-again be damned.
I get this impression from Rachel like she wants to have things, or at least that she has a childish attitude about “MINE” because, yes, prom queen stereotype. Aside from the above, Rachel always seems to want Ross just when he’s happy with someone else—and she’s willing to break up his relationships because of that. She doesn’t want him, she doesn’t want anyone else to have him, either. She was actively cruel to Julie for no good reason.
Is she does she actively want to make Ross unhappy? Because I kind of feel like she probably definitely is.
There’s also little things in the jokes that really irk me. Like, how she exchanges every gift she gets with no thought to the feelings of the gift giver. Also? She’s a terrible roommate, contributing little to nothing to the housekeeping, and she slept with Barry while he was engaged to someone else which I just remembered while I was typing this.
See? Hugh Laurie gets it.
“I’M HOPELESS AND AWKWARD AND DESPERATE FOR LOVE.”
Ah, Chanandler Bong. Funny. Socially awkward. A Massive Fucking Homophobe. Chandler is so completely uncomfortable with anything that isn’t heteronormative or traditionally masculine that he doesn’t even want the parent who happens to also go by “Helena Handbasket” to attend his wedding.
Chandler isn’t actually any less of a caveman when it comes to women than Joey is. Except Chandler’s backwards attitude towards women is accompanied with his persona as the desperate loser. In actuality, as many women know, this carries a creepiness—and can come across as menacing. Chandler also dated Janice multiple times despite actively despising her, and in the end gets rid of her by pretending to move to Yemen.
Someone with any degree of emotional maturity would never pull the shit that Chandler does. Or be as jealous of Monica being friends with an ex, especially as she’s known that ex for her entire life and cutting someone out after that is rough. And he’s perfectly happy to throw away pursuing a career that he actually cares about when the promise of more money rolls around.
“YOU DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO. I TELL YOU WHAT TO DO.”
This woman is crazy manipulative, and this includes sexually. At one point she makes Chandler have sex when he doesn’t really want to because she just CAN’T wait to have a baby, apparently. She also left Emma unattended to have sex because, again, can’t wait. In the Friends universe, ovulation is an excuse for terrible childcare. Oh hey! Remember that time that she only gave a speech to make her parents cry? That was so cool of her.
“IF I DON’T KNOW WHO MAKES THE MOST, HOW DO I KNOW WHO I LIKE THE MOST?”
Phoebe is actually the scariest one of all of them, and the most physically violent. The casual way in which she talks about mugging people with a pipe is so very unnerving. Plus, she left Mike handcuffed to a drainpipe.
For some reason she feels the need to be an ass to Joey when he’s trying to play the guitar, like in this weird hyper-controlling way. Like maybe Joey also could have handled the situation better, but at points she just seemed to be up for making his time harder. And that’s sort of a Phoebe theme. This woman will fuck you up if you cross her. She seriously considered planting PCP in Monica and Chandler’s apartment.
Oh and there was that time she donated a bunch of money to charity and then, you know, took it back.
And Phoebe has a bonus quote: “I wish I could, but I don’t want to.”
“JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD!”
I don’t think I need to write an essay to explain why I wouldn’t want to be buds with Joey Tribbiani. His attitude towards women is appalling. He forgets the names and faces of most of the women he sleeps with. He strips naked like in the first minute he knows Monica and puts his leg up on the table in order to display the little general. (I’m no expert, but that’s totally a crime, right?)
Joey is with Chandler when they lose Ben on the bus after being distracted by a couple of women. He stoops as low as buying a bunch of Porsche merch so that he can pretend he has a Porsche. Not only does Joey think with his dick, but he has no desire or intention to start thinking with his challenger upstairs brain, there.
What’s confusing, though, is that I still really enjoy watching this show. I just also know that these people would be hard to be friends with. And boring to talk to, as they actively shun any and all academic topics. (Except, you know when they need to make jokes about how dumb Joey is.)
Question of the day: If you had to pick just one, which character from Friends would you be friends with? I’d have to say Mike—and not just because of my Paul Rudd obsession, I swear.