The PJ Tatler

Slate Social Justice Warrior Overcome by the Urge to Retroactively Complain About...Chandler Bing

This is a thing that happened today.

I loved Friends during its 1994–2004 run, but when I started re-watching the sitcom thanks to its Jan. 1 arrival on Netflix, I steeled myself to be disappointed. I knew that from our modern vantage point, the fashion and technology would feel, at times, obsolete. (Ross’s Season 3 “laserdisc marathon”!) I suspected some plotlines would be a little creaky, too: Ross’s relationship with an undergrad, say, and Monica in a fat suit. But as a longtime fan, I worried most about Joey.

Joey’s “thing” was that he was an inveterate womanizer; in the pilot, he compared women to ice cream, and told a mopey Ross to “grab a spoon.” In the year 2015, would this kind of horndogginess play? The trope of the leering lothario just felt so old, so unfunny, so painfully CBS. But as I watched, I was soon reminded of Joey’s other qualities: His warmth, his happy-go-lucky confidence, and his love of jam. Joey is great! Sure, he loves beautiful women, but somehow his openness and goofiness—and Matt LeBlanc’s performance—still make him easy to watch.

You know who isn’t easy to watch? Chandler Bing.

Indeed, of all the aspects of Friends that seem trapped in the past, Chandler Bing is the most agonizingly obsolete. Once he may have seemed coolly sarcastic, the gang’s designated “funny one.” But through the eyes of a 2015 viewer even vaguely cognizant of modern gender politics, he’s also the cringe-worthy one.

Chandler, identified in Season 1 as having a “quality” of gayness about him, is endlessly paranoid about being perceived as insufficiently masculine. He’s freaked out by hugs, and by Joey having a pink pillow on his couch. (“If you let this go, you’re going to be sitting around with your fingers soaking in stuff!”)

In retrospect, the entire show’s treatment of LGBTQ issues is awful, a fault pointedly illustrated by the exhaustive clip-compilation “Homophobic Friends.” But Chandler’s treatment of his gay father, a Vegas drag queen played by Kathleen Turner, is especially appalling, and it’s not clear the show knows it. It’s one thing for Chandler to recall being embarrassed as a kid, but he is actively resentful and mocking of his loving, involved father right up until his own wedding (to which his father is initially not invited!). Even a line like “Hi, Dad” is delivered with vicious sarcasm. Monica eventually cajoles him into a grudging reconciliation, which the show treats as an acceptably warm conclusion. But his continuing discomfort now reads as jarringly out-of-place for a supposedly hip New York thirtysomething—let alone a supposedly good person, period.

One wonders what kinds of childhood traumas were visited upon these leftist scolds to make them decide ahead of time what they won’t like about a sitcom that went off the air over ten years ago. Probably something horrific like mommy not getting the right kind of frosting for the 10th birthday cake.

I am often considered somewhat cranky, yet on my worst days I’m the Happiest Guy On Earth compared to your garden variety Social Justice Warrior (SJW). Imagine living such a miserable life that the phrase “I steeled myself to be disappointed” comes out of your brain in reference to watching a popular situation comedy.

In their zeal to despise all things American, progressives spend their days creating struggles and seeing oppression in places like sitcoms, where most people see an easy laugh.

The writer laments the treatment of “LGBTQ issues” in a show that really didn’t go after a lot of heavy issues. Ross wasn’t a very flattering portrayal of paleontologists either. Monica seemed far too anal to be a really inventive chef. Rachel’s career path was unrealistic.

The list of things to complain about in a show that never really was about any of those things is endless.

Because it was a lighthearted television show, you SJW shrew.

Progressives rail at the lack of depth in things that aren’t supposed to have depth because they are working out personal issues related to the shallowness of their own lives and political philosophy, it’s that simple.

They are that simple.

And sad.