When it was first announced that audiences would be able to watch Friends on Netflix, there was a huge wave of nostalgia-fueled excitement. However, millennials watching Friends for the first time have noticed a few unsettling things that show how Friends is problematic, especially in the 21st century.
Upon watching the old Friends episodes, the millennial audience began to notice subtle homophobia in the series. Ross’ wife divorced him after she came out as a lesbian, and the other characters consistently make fun of him for that. The belief seems to be that Ross somehow made his ex-wife gay, something that would never fly in today’s media landscape.
Millennials watching Friends on Netflix also noticed that Chandler has a real mean streak when it comes to his transgender father. Chandler obviously harbours a lot of resentment about this and feels that the situation somehow is a threat to his masculinity. Chandler, along with Ross, is also overly concerned with being perceived as gay.
Younger viewers have also noticed that Friends is problematic in its complete lack of diversity. The show is set in New York, one of the most diverse cities in the world. However, throughout the run of the series, there were only two recurring actors who were not white (Julie, played by Lauren Tom, and Charlie, played by Aisha Tyler).
There are also body-shaming issues on Friends. Monica used to be overweight, and she is constantly mocked for her looks when she was younger. Twitter user @merphynapier also pointed out that Monica’s “personality is completely different when she’s fat. As if being thin somehow makes her a more well-rounded person.”
Millennials watching Friends on Netflix have also noticed some of the problematic behaviour of the characters when it comes to sex and relationships. The most glaring problem is that Rachel hires an assistant just because she finds him attractive. After that, she essentially sexually harasses him at work until they start dating.
Friends is definitely a relic of the 90s, and unfortunately, the show can’t be retroactively changed to be more modern. However, people watching the classic series on Netflix can examine how much attitudes have changed, even from a time when Friends was considered one of the most progressive shows on television.
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