Was 'Friends' Actually Kind Of Problematic?
16 January 2018, 14:36 | Updated: 16 January 2018, 14:54
People are noticing things they never noticed before and now the internet is divided.
Now that Friends has made its way onto Netflix, it appears that people have begun looking at the hugely popular 90s sitcom with a more critical eye.
The 90s were, admittedly, far less "politically correct" than we're used to now, and it's become harder to view certain jokes the same way we would have 20 years ago.
Take this cringe inducing scene from Friends in which Ross passionately argues that any man who wants to work as a nanny must be gay.
Now that more and more people are looking back at the show, the internet is officially divided over whether the humour in some of these Friends episodes should be looked at as problematic.
For some, the homophobic jokes stand out A LOT more than they did back in the day.
tbh the first thing i noticed when i tried to rewatch was the fun casual mid 90s homophobia https://t.co/tYCB329njS— arego (@airuhgo) January 11, 2018
For others, the people looking back at 'Friends' with a more critical eye were "trying to ruin" it.
Why are people trying to ruin Friends by saying there’s homophobia and body shaming etc in the episodes? Grow up 🙄— abbieevansx (@abbieevans18) January 13, 2018
Of course, in the 90s, homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic jokes were low hanging fruit, guaranteed to get easy laughs.
rewatching Friends, and it's amazing to see how they were trying to humiliate Susan the whole time with lesbian jokes but she ends up looking the best out of everyone in the show, standing up to their bigoted comments that, back then, were a cheap and easy laugh. https://t.co/tHFUxyKByB— Molly Priddy (@mollypriddy) January 10, 2018
However, some people are convinced that there is no point re-litigating the politics of a show that ended so many years ago.
Yeah there’s some homphobic and transphobic and sexist shit in friends. The show is DECADES old and you can’t really hold it to 2018’s standards, just let people enjoy an old fuckin show— 𝔥𝔞𝔯𝔯𝔶 (@BADWAVVES) January 15, 2018
Of course, Friends is hardly the only 90s show that doesn't hold up under the harsh light of 2018.
Even looking back on shows like Seinfeld and Frasier, which are deeply beloved by millennials, still presents a dilemma for people who consider themselves intolerant of homophobia and sexism.
So, what is the best way to handle older shows with jokes that feel...gross in 2018?
Look, it's okay to like stuff. You're not a bad person for liking Friends and wanting to ignore the questionable parts and you're not a "sensitive snowflake" for noticing that these shows lean on homophobic and sexist humour.
Looking at back at Friends with some skepticism isn't "ruining" it. It's acknowledging that there is a need to view art with a nuanced, and often times critical lens. We can't change jokes that were written 25 years ago, but we can acknowledge that some of them are objectively bad and that even a widely loved show like Friends deserves some criticism.