Lifestyle

‘FRIENDS’ is being slammed for its problematic content, and it pains us to say we agree

New watchers are calling the show sexist, homophobic and racist.

By Katie Stow

Friends is a show that 99.9 per cent of our friends and family absolutely love. Its comic timing, classic characters and oh-so-quotable script made it reach legendary status in the '90s sitcom category, but now the show is getting ripped to shreds for its "problematic" content, and — even as hardcore fans — we can't help but agree.

Without even pressing play on an episode, you can easily see an extremely lack of racial diversity in the cast. The main six — Rachel, Monica, Pheobe, Joey, Chandler and Ross — are all white, relatively privileged, heterosexual Americans, and pretty much every single character the main six date can be plonked into that category too.

Now, if you dive into the first season, you'll see a shovel-load of homophobic commentary around Ross and his relationship with his soon-to-be ex-wife, Carol, as she moves on from him with a woman.

The show also knocks on the door of fat-shaming, with a running plot device surrounding Monica and her previously-overweight self. The cast even refer to this character as 'Fat Monica', detaching her from current, skinny Monica, and taunting her for her inability to pick up men or put the chocolate down during her larger days.

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Friends also has a sub-plot of transphobia, as Chandler has an obscure relationship with his father who has transitioned into a woman. There are a lot of jokes about transitioning and a huge amount of disrespect for those making a choice to change sex — with one prime 'joke' being when Rachel thinks that Chander's dad is called Amanda because it can be said as "A-Man-DUH".

Then we come to Joey. Try-hard actor and food-enthusiast, Tribbiani coined perhaps the most well-known catchphrase of the 1990s.

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But this line is very foundation of his character's biggest 2018 criticism: That Joey Tribbiani is sexist. Think about it, he could definitely be categorised as a 'womaniser', and he sees every lady as a conquest rather than an equal. He even sought out a female roommate just so he could shag her. There are also some incredibly awkward moments (if you re-watch) where he fantasises out loud about his female friends in lesbian/threesome scenarios that literally no one encouraged.

He even compares women to ice-cream, telling Ross to "grab a spoon". Eurgh. Eye roll.

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There's also a hell of a lot of gender-stereotyping in Friends, and a lot of it comes directly from Ross — so, sorry if he's your fave.

Firstly, he gets extremely wound up when his son, Ben, starts playing with a Barbie doll. "Why is my boy playing with a Barbie?" he questions Carol in a panic. Carol attempts to comfort him, explaining that it's no big deal whether Ben plays with a Barbie, but Ross shuts her down with undertones of homophobia — blaming Bens actions on the fact he's getting raised by two lesbians.

He then rips Freddie Prince Jr. to shreds when he comes in as an extra on the show, playing the role of a bloke applying to be a nanny for Ross and Rachel's daughter. Ross is deeply uncomfortable about a man working in the role of a caregiver and is awful during their meeting — straight-up assuming that his character must be gay, based simply on his career choice.

It appears that Friends really is a product of its time — ignoring political correctness and chucking offensive and inappropriate hand grenades all over every episode. It's okay if you haven't watched the show in a while and are still holding Friends up on a pedestal, and are struggling coming to terms with this revelation.

But it's probably best if you stop raving about how hilarious and progressive and timeless Friends is, because although some of the jokes may have stood the test of time, so much of the content is now questionable and frankly wouldn't be aired on TV networks today.

Now watch, Elle Macpherson's cameo on Friends: