Friends may be problematic but here's why it's not going away

There's a lot of criticism about the TV show Friends. It had flaws, particularly around minority representation. There were no significant gay or trans characters except for Chandler's dad, who was ambiguously one or the other and typically only mentioned for a laugh. There were no significant black characters, except for Charlie, who was a one-season love interest for Ross and then briefly for Joey, and the value of her character as black representation is questionable. Ross and Monica, one third of the main characters, were Jewish, but that was only ever mentioned to serve a punchline. The most exotic accent any significant character had was British.

Here's the thing, though. Friends was the show every grown up watched when I was coming of age. And past seasons were syndicated on local broadcast stations in the afternoon, so catching up on the earlier episodes that aired before I got into it basically took zero effort. And it really was quite funny.

When I rewatch the show today, the comedy holds up. Sure, the male characters can be a little homophobic sometimes, but that's how guys were in the 90s, and it's not like most of the jokes are drawn from that. And minority representation is basically non-existent, but that doesn't stop me from laughing.

Most importantly, the characters feel like personal friends I've known for twenty years. The blossoming relationships, proposals, breakups, fights, births, deaths, and memorable comedic situations feel like they happened in my real-life circle of friends, and I'm sure I'm far from the only viewer to feel that way. Watching the reruns is like reminiscing with real friends about the times that brought us close: the good, the bad, and the outrageously funny.

Goddamnit I'm crying from writing this. You can point out its flaws, but this show means a lot to a lot of people, and you're never going to convince us the bad outweighs the good.

Comments

  • IN THIS WORLD IT'S MILK OR BE MILKED
    I read this as "having friends is problematic"
  • BeeBee
    edited 2018-07-14 02:37:19
    Wasn't Ross's ex-wife also gay?  Like, she left him for a woman, had a baby, and were probably a hell of a lot wholesome than Ross ever was.

    Ross was a fucking asshole.  I was pissed when Rachel got back together with him.
  • The moonlight is the message of love.
    Here's a photo @Anonus took last month of the sound stage where Friends was filmed

    image
  • IN THIS WORLD IT'S MILK OR BE MILKED
    I've never actually seen this show....I don't see the appeal of it.
  • My vague understanding is that it's like ASIP but less disgusting and outright - or differently? - frank (?) about how awful its cast is, and far more traditionally sitcom-y in terms of appeal. Or something like that.
  • Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.
    Crystal said:

    My vague understanding is that it's like ASIP but less disgusting and outright - or differently? - frank (?) about how awful its cast is, and far more traditionally sitcom-y in terms of appeal. Or something like that.

    I'm pretty sure you're thinking of Seinfeld.
  • The moonlight is the message of love.
    Real talk: I was never that big a fan of Friends because I didn't watch much "grown-up" TV back when it was airing, but I've seen quite a few reruns in syndication and I can see why the people who grew up with it would be fond of it. Phoebe was always my favorite.
  • edited 2018-07-14 02:54:05
    Best Jeannest

    Crystal said:

    My vague understanding is that it's like ASIP but less disgusting and outright - or differently? - frank (?) about how awful its cast is, and far more traditionally sitcom-y in terms of appeal. Or something like that.

    I'm pretty sure you're thinking of Seinfeld.
    yes I am actually an idiot when it comes to murkan sitcoms

    oop
  • vtkvtk
    embrace the confusion
    Oh yeah, forgot about Carol and Susan. Okay, a pair of minor characters who were gay from episode one, and that was "progressive" for TV when the show started. My bad...

    I always liked Phoebe, too. Also, I wanted to get all the laugh lines like Chandler and didn't realize then that most of the time all the laughing came from the other side of the fourth wall, and the other characters didn't often show appreciation of his wit.
  • BeeBee
    edited 2018-07-15 04:29:55

    Crystal said:

    My vague understanding is that it's like ASIP but less disgusting and outright - or differently? - frank (?) about how awful its cast is, and far more traditionally sitcom-y in terms of appeal. Or something like that.

    I'm pretty sure you're thinking of Seinfeld.

    Yeah I mean the Friends cast had individual douchebag moments but for the most part they were okay people.  It was really just Ross who was always a shithead.

    You also kind of squarely hit why I can't stand Seinfeld.
  • “His thoughts were red thoughts, and his teeth were white.”
    Always Sunny is arguably less displeasing if harder to watch because it goes all in on making the characters vile and/or unhinged and doesn’t pretend they’re anything close to reasonable human beings.
  • I can all but hear the chimes
    They are long and loud and slow
    AIDS BLOOD IN THE POOL
  • BeeBee
    edited 2018-07-16 08:28:49
    "Less displeasing if harder to watch" is a good way of describing it, honestly.  Seinfeld kind of leads you on with an initial sense of normalcy, but ends up blindsiding you with a whole cast of assholes in a way that you're not entirely sure how much the writers realize they've written assholes instead of weird and quirky.
  • Always Sunny is arguably less displeasing if harder to watch because it goes all in on making the characters vile and/or unhinged and doesn’t pretend they’re anything close to reasonable human beings.

    Bless.

    No, really, I'm so excited for the new season, and it's one of those series I actually want to watch again, at least a little bit.
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