Netflix has put up all the ten seasons of Friends in the UK, and many millennials are now binge watching the 90s sitcom for the first time. However, if Twitter is anything to go by, the millennials who are watching it now, are finding the series a bit offensive and disturbing contrary to the viewers who grew up watching it.
I was a uni student in the 90s so looked forward to rewatching Friends on Netflix over New Year. But I agree – the ‘fat Monica’ and ‘gay Chandler’ ‘jokes’ feel very out of place now. And was Joey *always* that bit creepy? Disappointing.
— Christine Carr 💙 (@ChristineCarr) January 4, 2018
Rewatching Friends on Netflix and damn! Never realised just how annoying and homophobic Ross was with stuff like this! Did always love Carol and Susan though, should have known 😅🏳️🌈 https://t.co/J3mrO7Uexx
— Amy ⭐ (@Skaikracha) January 7, 2018
Some people pointed out, Friends belongs to a time when the mere portrayal of a lesbian relationship on a sitcom was a brave move.
Kind of sick of people judging shit that was made during a different time. Actually it was kind of brave. How many other comedies included lesbians raising a kid together?
— ROUGravitas (@ROUGravitis) January 11, 2018
Or maybe, the millennials aren’t able to interpret the show correctly.
A couple snide remarks because you're upset your pregnant wife has left you for another woman and then said woman starts making plans for your baby like it's her baby does not a homophobe make. You can't figure out why he hates her? Hint: It's not because she's a lesbian.
— Ryan Sytsma (@sytsma) January 22, 2018
Friends is not homophobic, but it does show how messed up the nineties were.
It’s a different experience to watch the much-loved show when you have grown up. As a teenager, watching Friends was something that made you cool.
It was your window to the American lifestyle of excess and relationship equations; your parents would rather not have put into your heads.
I am guilty of still watching Friends, whenever I manage to catch it airing on television, and there is nothing better to watch. Mostly when the eyes are too tired to read, and the brain is too full to understand anything new. It’s that kind of show. The one which fills you up with nostalgia and makes you warm and happy. It’s my cup of hot cocoa, that I drink without analysing the number of calories it is adding to my system.
But yes, growing up and evolving into a liberal and feminist being, does make the viewing a little less pleasant. The way Monica is fat shamed, or Joey goes around objectifying women. I have begun to dislike Ross from season two and three so much, that I refuse to watch episodes where he becomes so controlling and obsessive, you almost want Rachel to run into the arms of her colleague.
But Friends was the show which had a lesbian wedding, and two moms raising a son. It did not portray Susan and Carol in a bad light. Also, Phoebe does give an explanation for Ross’s obsessive behaviour, saying that the way his first marriage ended, messed him up.
Why millennials need to forgive Friends
It wasn’t Friends, but the sensibilities of the nineties which were a letdown.
Friends were, and still is one of the best-written shows ever. Millennials have to accept that this is the show, which aired its last episode fourteen years ago. We cannot have them evolved or sensitised now, no matter how much we want to.
Just like you overlook the rudimentary laptops and cell phones, or excuse the use of outdated slang, please try to overlook the dated set-up. Despite its flaws, like lack of diversity in the cast, or transgender and fat shaming humour, or white privilege, Friends was a progressive show in its times which ran for 10 years and won many awards.
Issues like infertility, surrogacy, single parenting, inter-racial dating, were just finding their way into the popular discourse.
So instead of criticising a show conceived, filmed and set in the 90s, maybe we should just look at it like a photo album. If you don’t like what you see, just flip it and watch something else. Take a cue from this Netflix tweet, and chill.
FRIENDS 2018 PLOTLINES
-Joey eats Tide pods, goes to hospital (guest star Ellen Pompeo)
-Chandler won't shut up about how funny his Vines were
-Ed Sheeran cameo interrupts Phoebe's Central Perk set
-Ross gets everyone into Bitcoin
-The One Where The Gang Realizes Their Privilege
— Netflix (@netflix) January 24, 2018
( Picture Credit: designntrend.com)
Also Read : “Television needs to reinvent itself”- Naghma Sahar at Juxtapose
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own