I’m sorry, but it’s pretty obvious that Friends is just an awful, awful TV show

Hey, how you doin’?


It’s finally happened: Friends is officially returning for a one-off special. You have probably seen your incredibly lame friends frantically tagging each other in posts about the news. People who really need to acquire a hobby are calling it “the biggest news of the millenium.”  The whole thing is being done to push HBO’s new streaming service, but the fact it will be unscripted bascially confirms it won’t be the proper return you think it’s going to be. But even if it were, it doesn’t mater, because Friends is -and I cannot stress this enough – total shit.

Don’t get me wrong, I watch a lot of Friends. I watch it almost religiously, every day, and I’ve seen every episode 20+ times. But this is purely in a nostalgic, I-watched-this-when-I-was-a-kid-and-it-still-makes-me-feel-warm-inside way. If I was introduced to this show now, at the ripe old age of 20, there’s no way I would love it as much as I do now.

I doubt I’d even get through the first season of badly timed gay jokes, Rachel’s whiney brattiness, and Ross’ “oh woe is me my wife’s a lesbian” outlook on life. The show is just really not that good, and it doesn’t deserve the love everyone showers over it. Sorry, not sorry.

Ross is a pretty terrible person

He waited approximately four seconds before cheating on Rachel (yes, they were on a break but we all know that doesn’t actually mean they’ve broken up – if Friends has taught us anything, it’s that), he broke up with his girlfriend because she was bald, he dated one of his students – in a move that was both inappropriate and unprofessional – he said the wrong name at the wedding, and he refused to get a divorce from Rachel, very much against her will.

Oh, and he decided to pose as a masseuse in order to massage an attractive woman. Perv. Not to mention the fact that he is a terrible father: where is Ben at his wedding to Emily? Why does he not care that Rachel is taking Emma across the pond to Paris where he’ll never get to see her? You want to root for Ross, you really do, especially when he is constantly victimised by the other characters, but he’s just such an arsehole.

All the guys constantly attack each other in order to boost their own masculinity

Remember the episode when Joey bought a “man bag” and all the other characters teased him mercilessly for owning a handbag – even the extras whose sole purpose in the episode was to tear down Joey’s masculinity? Or the episode when Ross, Joey, and Chandler all seem to find the idea of a male nanny hilarious, coming to the conclusion that he must be gay because, duh, why else would a guy want to be a nanny if he wasn’t gay?

Or every episode with Carol and Susan, whose marriage is literally just used as a punchline to shame Ross and threaten his masculinity. 

Their relationships are destructive and pretty meaningless

The whole “will the, won’t they” between Ross and Rachel was tiresome before they even got together in season 3, but it only got worse after that. The idea that Rachel’s job was an unjumpable hurdle in her otherwise “solid” relationship with Ross is just stupid; there was no trust in their relationship, no respect, and very little commitment – as Ross proved.

If their relationship was “solid” then Ross wouldn’t need it validated constantly – and he would have taken responsibility for his actions with the Xerox guy. Which, by the way, he only does in one episode later on because he was too tired to read Rachel’s letter and just wanted to get laid.

Chandler was just as bad, to be fair, constantly stringing Janice along even though he openly despises her. And Joey has virtually no respect for women or relationships at all; he constantly sexualises his female friends, and openly admits that guys are never nice to women for no reason – they always want sex.

They never go out, anywhere.

Why are all the characters so middle aged? They’re supposed to be in their mid-twenties, in one of the greatest cities in the world, but they’re all such bores. They work in fashion, TV, trendy restaurants, and whatever Chandler does, but they are so culturally reserved it’s almost embarrassing.

The only time any of them seem to have any involvement in the world around them is when Phoebe gets excited about meeting Sting. They even get excited about going to see Hootie and the Blowfish. That’s not something any young urbanite in the mid 90s would realistically give a shit about, that’s all I’m saying.

The double standard is strong and persistent

The whole plot with Richard and Monica discussing how many people each of them had slept with highlights a very real issue faced by men and women in modern day culture, but the show is clearly not trying to tackle the double standard – they play right into it. Monica is effectively slut shamed as Richard pries into just how many men she’s slept with, while Monica is later appalled to discover she’s only the second woman Richard’s been with.

Basically, “normal” men should have a long list of sexual partners, and “normal” women should keep their legs closed. And no one seems to mind that Joey gets to parade woman after woman around him with pride. He’s a guy, so he gets commended rather than shamed, obvs. 

It totally downplays the seriousness of suicide

Phoebe’s background is horrific: her mother killed herself when she was just a teenager, and then she spent years living on the streets. Why did the writers not use this to create a character with real depth? Instead, it’s only brought up to highlight how “kooky” Phoebe is; it’s only mentioned in a blasé, matter of fact way that doesn’t even make the other characters skip a beat.

With a show as influential as Friends the writers could have done so much for suicide awareness, but instead they just use it as a punchline.

For a show set in NYC, the city of diversity, there’s almost no diversity in the whole show

It’s literally just six white friends who only hang out with other white people. It’s not even until the 9th season that there’s a recurring black cast member, and even she disappears just as quickly as she appears, with virtually no character development. But, you know, it’s not like NYC is known as the city of diversity or anything. 

Women are treated as either stupid, or objects

Ross literally treats Rachel like his property: she’s not allowed any male friends, or to have a successful career. Also, let’s not forget the fact that he stayed married to her against her will. Rachel’s character is so bland and vanilla that the only reason she seems to be in the show at all is to be something for Ross, and various other guys, to pine over. Even Gunther feels like she owes him something.

And the whole storyline with Chandler moving to Yemen just to get away from Janice? Not only is that such a fuckboy move, are we actually supposed to believe that Janice is so stupid that she can’t figure out he’s making it all up?

Their lifestyle is totally unattainable

Yeah OK, sure, Monica inherited her apartment, and they’re living there illegally. But even if we skate over that totally implausible theory, there still remains the fact that Phoebe who, in all the seasons, never has a proper job but spends her time as a masseuse or a busker, is somehow able to afford a pretty sizeable apartment in the middle of Manhattan?

And Joey spends most of his time as an out of work actor and is basically living off the generosity of Chandler. Except for the fact that they didn’t know each other until Joey moved in, so how could he afford to move in in the first place? Their lives are so far out of reach for any normal 20 somethings trying to make it in the big city.

This article originally appeared on Babe in 2017.

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