I am going to attempt to shed some light to one of the all-time favourite classic TV series ever written, Friends. While the series was an absolute delight for my 17-year-old self, the series was pretty overrated.
The show justifies stereotyping with humour
Rachel, a dumb yet pretty blonde woman who is only of any use when it comes to the fashion industry. Phoebe, another pretty yet dumb blonde who has no idea about the real world whatsoever. Joey, an Italian American misogynist whose character is garnished with humour to help overlook miles of sexism that hides beneath the layers. Ross, the only character in the show with a PhD. But who cares about that? Guys with PhD. are nerds who need 10 years to end up with any woman that is even mildly beautiful because sexy and smart doesn’t go together.
Helped create a culture of toxic humour
All throughout the show, apart from misogyny and lack of diversity, we can also see how the show tried to justify body shamming in a subtle way. We get myriads of flashback episode from the time when Monica was obese and how she had to change herself because she had a crush on Chandler.
In another episode, we get Brad Pitt as a guest star where we find out Rachel’s character used to bully him. At no point did the show endorse body types that were anything other than perfect according to conventional societal standards. And they tried to justify such discrimination by hiding behind a curtain of toxic humour.
Lack of depth for characters
Was “Friends” a funny show? Yes. But is it because the characters were funny? No. If you take any line said by Monica and make Rachel say that line instead, the show would still be funny. If you take one of Joey’s line and make phoebe say it, it would still be equally funny.
While the show had a lot of good jokes, it didn’t have much depth when it came to its character’s character.
Not realistic enough
The show was targeted to the general mass as a representation of the day to day struggles of a group of friends. The only problem was, it ended up being a story about six straight white adults who are privileged enough to not care about their careers and can still end up living in fancy NYC apartments. Tagging this as “Relatable and Realistic” is just another way to justify white privilege through humour.
Too much love too little friendship
I want you to try and imagine a world where Rachel and Ross were never in love, Monica and Chandler didn’t get married with kids, would the whole plotline still make sense and be as touching? No. And this is the biggest problem with the show. The show claims to be about friendship but it refuses to go in-depth about different dimensions of friendship that exists beyond the world of romantic relationships.
I will never try to argue that Friends was not a good TV series because it was. It was iconic.
While the hype around Friends is something that can’t go away, and it shouldn’t, but it should also be criticized in the same way that we would for any other TV series. Friends is a good Tv series but it does have its flaws.