Friends is a television series that aired for ten seasons from 1994 through 2004 on NBC. It's precisely this decade-long time frame that allowed the program to develop "jokes" that would simply not fly in 2022.
Friends is stuffed with information that a modern sitcom would not be able to snooze at today, from the abundance of homophobia and transphobia to the outrageous gender stereotypes and jokes surrounding people's looks. Things that may just make viewers cringe while they watch all those reruns on HBO Max.
*Warning: this article includes information relating to homophobia, transphobia, and sexual assault*.
"I Married A Lesbian!"
It's hard to think of Ross and forget that he was once married to a lesbian. That's because Friends constantly reminds the public of this fact, and made his ex-wife Carol and her new partner Susan the subject of several jokes throughout the series.
Homophobia this extreme would certainly not be shown on television today, especially when so many actors and couples have been hailed for being LGBTQ+, and real "friends" would never mock or hate someone for a situation like this.
Friends notwithstanding, the 1990s had a bad habit of making jokes against the LGBTQ+. Once one of Chandler's parents came out as a transgender woman, it became more of a punchline than a thing to be proud of.
Chandler never even attempted to conceal his transphobia, often misgendering his parent and giggling at the sight of her in a dress and makeup at his wedding.
In sitcoms, it was always a strange habit to fat-shame overweight people and joking about their size. With Patrice, I did this frequently, following in the footsteps of Friends, who did the same thing with one of its main characters.
Monica was once overweight, as is usually shown in flashbacks to her teenage years. However, when the sole purpose of making a character overweight is to insult them or joke about it, it's not exactly funny, and certainly not something any reputable television show would do today.
The Male Nanny
Who doesn't remember Season 9's "The One with the Male Nanny"? The episode revolves around Ross and Rachel's search for a nanny to watch Emma, and despite Freddie Prince Jr. being an excellent nanny who is loved by Rachel, Ross had some serious issues.
Ross expresses his dislike of having a male nanny, going as far as to ask Prince's character his sexual preferences, assuming he must be gay if he's a male nanny. Rachel was ok with the circumstances.
Ugly Naked Guy
Ugly Naked Guy is a well-known character from the show because he lives in the same house as his friends' signature apartment and often walks around unclothed for all of the friends to see from the big bay window.
The issue here isn't the character, but the group's nickname. This leads to more fat-shaming, as Phoebe once admitted that "Ugly Naked Guy" used to be cute before gaining weight, hence why he's now ugly. Even using the word 'ugly' to describe someone in 2022 is in bad taste (as it was in the 1990s).
The Immaturity Surrounding Breakfeeding
It's hard to imagine a time in a world bursting with breastfeeding freedoms and Free the Nipple campaigns when something as beautiful and natural as breastfeeding was ever a thing of displeasure or discomfort.
When Joey and Chandler couldn't bear to see Carol breastfeeding Ben, their reactions on television may have been mildly understandable in the 1990s, but their immature attitudes would certainly not be tolerated today.
Ross had to go and whine about his toddler son playing with Barbies, as if he could be any less sexist. His masculinity issues aren't just implied when he attempts to substitute Ben's Barbie for an action figure, Ross literally replies straight up to Rachel, "Why is my little boy playing with a Barbie?"
The damage Ross probably caused to Ben, from his refusal to touch dolls to his sister's male nanny conflict, is enough to send Cole Sprouse's character to therapy for the rest of his life.
Workplace Sexual Assault
Until it's on Friends, any form of sexual misconduct in the workplace is no laughing matter. Phoebe is raped by a male client while working as a masseuse, a scene that's greeted with tons of laughter from the audience.
When Phoebe tells her friends about the incident, it's brushed off to deal with the more pressing issue in the coffee shop: the fact that Rachel's hot boyfriend committed the assault.