The sitcom Friends was one of those it seemed everyone loved and watched religiously during its ten-year run from 1994 to 2004. It was a smash hit with an ensemble cast of characters that fans cared for and rooted for. Yet, in the years since its series finale, Friends has been criticized, particularly by millenials, who have been triggered by various storylines.
[S]ome millennials found LGBT plot points left them feeling “uncomfortable” – for example when Chandler was paranoid about being perceived as a gay man or made mean-spirited jokes about his cross-dressing dad.
Sexism seeps in when Rachel hires a nanny for her daughter Emma, but Emma’s father Ross can’t handle the fact that the nanny is a man. Ross takes it one step further to being homophobic by asking if he’s gay.
Not to mention Monica (played by Courtney Cox) was never allowed to forget she was once overweight – there’s even an episode where Joey Tribbiani (played by LeBlanc) yells, “Some girl ate Monica!”
New audiences claimed that Rachel would have been fired for sexual harassment because she hires an assistant who isn’t qualified for the position because she wants to date him.
There’s also the controversial relationship between Monica and her father’s best friend who’s 20 years older than her, but it was perceived as even more uncomfortable in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and #MeToo stories.
The show also has been criticized for its lack of diversity, and now it seems we can’t talk about Friends anymore without someone denouncing it as racist, transphobic, homophobic, or misogynist. Never mind the fact that it portrayed one of the first same-sex weddings on American television back in 1996—eighteen years before it was even legal. It wasn’t even treated as taboo or controversial. But, hey, Chandler was worried about why people thought he was gay! The horror!
Well, a whole new wave of criticism can be expected now that a Friends Reunion Special is reportedly in development for HBO Max, featuring the original cast and creators. According to MEAWW, it “better have more racial diversity and LGBTQ representation.”
When the show does return in – hopefully – 2020 for an HBO Max audience, we should hope that it is rich in diversity without it being about tokenism. It is unfathomable that this group of friends who live in New York, the melting pot of America, hasn’t made friends with more diverse backgrounds. Even more so, it is difficult to believe that they haven’t even interacted with people of different sexualities, sexual identities, and races for them to know better than to make jokes about them. It may have flown in the 90s and 2000s, but it definitely isn’t going to in the current day and age.
The Friends reunion better be woke, or else!
As much as I enjoyed Friends during its original run, something tells me this reunion special will join the growing list of woke reboots and revivals that sacrifice creativity for political correctness.