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21 Times "Friends" Was Actually Really Problematic

Seriously, watching Friends in 2018 is a whole new experience.

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share the moments in Friends that they've found problematic while rewatching in 2018. Here are some of the best responses.

1. The whole "male nanny" debacle.


The whole Sandy debacle. Even with the "product of its time" factor, watching Ross' brain melt down over the idea of a straight man wanting to care for children is so cringe-worthy. As much as yes, it's a TV show and therefore ridiculous things happen, in reality he probably would have been sued for asking invasive questions about the nanny's sexuality and then firing him because he was a man.


How that wonderful nanny couldn't take care of Emma because he wasn't "man" enough according to Ross.


2. Pretty much everything about "Fat Monica."


"Fat Monica" fed into the whole media perpetuated image of overweight individuals as punchlines and nothing more. She only became a "worthy" character after she lost the weight, or at least that's how the show made it seem.


It's not only the fat "jokes," but the way the show also implies that Monica is a lonely loser when she's bigger. How even?! I get so mad every time I think about it.


3. The treatment of Chandler's dad throughout the show.


The whole "Chandler's dad is a drag queen" thing. While the addition of an out and proud gay character was a huge step forward in television, they totally mis-represented the community. For almost 20 years, my mom thought that trans women and drag queens were the same thing because of this.


Chandler's homophobia and jokes about his transgender parent were awful. While they did address it later on by reuniting them, the character was played by Kathleen Turner! The show also conflated transgender people and drag queens. In trying to expose and dismantle some prejudices, they also perpetuated others.


4. Ross's absurd jealousy and possessiveness over Rachel when she's working for Mark.


The situation with Mark was borderline psychotic. He was resentful and jealous and became completely possessive. He interfered with her work more than once, shouted in her office and sent her excessive gifts. He may as well have just cattle branded her forehead with "ROSS."


He assumed that Rachel cared more about a guy than her career and current relationship, sent unprofessional and possessive gifts to her office and bought into the idea that a woman can only achieve success through her sexuality.


5. The objectification of women by the male characters.


There's a Thanksgiving episode where Ross and Joey are trying to leave so they can go and meet Joey's good looking roommate and her dancing friends. During the whole episode they're trying to think up ways to trick these women into sleeping with them, and Joey literally calls them "objects."


6. And the fact that the objectification often bordered on harassment. Take this scene, for example.


In one episode Rachel hurts her rib before this fancy event, so she asks Ross to help her get ready. She's about to change into her dress and asks Ross to turn around because she doesn't want him to see her naked. Ross doesn't turn around

because he says that he’s already seen her naked. Rachel explains that it’s different because they were together before. Ross says he can see her naked whenever he wants - he just has to close his eyes. He then “imagines her naked” multiple times and it just made me feel super uncomfortable even watching the scene. I would feel sexually harassed if an ex-boyfriend said that to me. Just another reason to hate Ross.


He kept picturing it even though she was visibly uncomfortable and kept telling him to stop. I just felt downright violated watching it.


7. As well as this one.


When Ross saw Rachel walking around the house naked. He immediately thought she was trying to have sex with him when really she just wanted to be naked in her own home. There was no communication between the two, but because Ross believes that he's so entitled as a man, he saw her nudity as a plea to have sex.


8. Joey's sexism going unchecked.


Most of Joey's scenes revolving around women are problematic. It really annoys me how Ross is always the target when Joey is such a terrible person! Sure, he has his good and sweet moments but it's super problematic that he can't remember who he's slept with, or how he makes his roommates make breakfast for his conquest and then dump them for him.


I love Joey but his roommate search was awful: "Female, non-smoker, non-ugly." Seriously? And his word association test was also incredibly sexist – Joey immediately rejected them if they weren't as obsessed with sex as he was.


9. Ross's failure to understand consent.


Ross just didn't understand consent. There's a flashback scene where Rachel and Monica went to one of Ross' college parties, and Ross talks about kissing Rachel. This actually turned out to be Monica, but Ross says that she was asleep when he kissed her. In another episode, Monica also has to remind him that even if Mark wants to sleep with Rachel, "Does that mean he gets to?"


Ross wanted to beat up Chandler when he found out he was sleeping with Monica, as if Monica wasn't a consenting adult with agency.

Blanche Deveraux

10. The constant examples of fragile masculinity.


For a show where the male characters honestly aren't exactly all that traditionally "masculine," they frequently had to make a HUGE issue out of their fragile masculinity. Classic example – in the episode where Chandler moves in with Monica, she has him making cedar sachets with old pantyhouse. Chandler asks to leave to go do "guy stuff." He then finds Joey learning to knit and Ross applying face powder to try and minimise the contrast of his overly bleached teeth. He leaves in disgust. Later, after pointing out all the feminine touches Joey's new female roommate has applied to the old apartment, Chandler has this exchange with Joey:

Chandler: You're turning into a woman.

Joey: No, I'm not. Why would you say that? That's just mean.

Chandler: Now I've upset you? What did I say?

Joey: It's not what you said. It's the way you said it... Oh, my God! I'm a woman!


– Rebecca Ross, Facebook

11. The anti-gay jokes and comments.


Generally speaking, the ease with which homophobic jokes are pumped out on that show – generally around the male characters' masculinity being up for debate and thus suggesting they're gay – definitely has not aged well.


Every time one of the men does something like be emotional, or hang out with a woman in a platonic way, the other men (looking at you, Chandler) ask if they're either gay or a woman. Homophobia and transphobia weren't funny then, it's less funny now.

– theresar487aee9ad

12. The lack of diversity in both the main and ensemble cast.


In all 10 seasons of the show, there are only three named characters who aren't white.


All six main actors are white, thin, straight, and good-looking.


13. The treatment of Carol and Susan's relationship.


All the times that just the phrase "lesbian life partner" was considered enough to cue the [laugh] track. It actually made it hard to watch while sitting with my apparently hilarious lesbian life partner and feeling like we were a joke.


14. And the way lesbianism is used as a punchline generally.


"Two girls kissing" is played for laughs more than once in the show.


All of the time that “lesbians!” was used as a punchline.

Blanche Deveraux

15. Ross trying to hook up with his cousin.


How about when Ross tries to have sex with his FIRST COUSIN?!?! He's a garbage person anyway, but when that happened I saw that actually, he could get worse.


When Ross came on to his cousin, and his excuse was because he "hadn't had sex in a long time." That shit was nasty.


16. Rachel sacrificing her dream job to be with Ross.


For ten seasons, Rachel had this wonderful arc as she grew from spoiled rich brat to an independent, self-actualised woman with a great career. Then at the last moment, she sacrifices that career for World Champion D-Bag NiceGuy™ Ross. In my head canon. Rachel never got off the plane and eventually became CEO of LVMH.


17. Ross pretending to be a masseur because he finds the "client" attractive.


The time Ross pretended to be a licensed masseur because he thought Phoebe's client was a hot girl. Beyond creepy, even for Ross.


18. Monica's cornrows.


Definitely when Monica gets cornrows and braids in Barbados. Chandler finds it so "disgusting" that he can't even kiss her. So – a traditional black hairstyle is disgusting to you?


19. Bonnie being tricked into shaving her head so she becomes "less attractive."


The finale of season three is cringey to me just because of how Ross and Rachel treat Bonnie. Rachel basically tricks Bonnie into shaving her head again because she thinks it will better her own chances with Ross, which works because Ross is ~The Worst.~ The only plus point is that Bonnie loves her shaved head and rocks it.


Every time they say Bonnie can't possibly be attractive if she's bald, I rage. I've shaved my head twice now for St. Baldricks Foundation (but also for me!) and I love how I look and feel when bald.


20. Monica's relationship with Richard.


Monica sleeping with her friend's dad. I mean, I know he's Tom Selleck but this dude knew Monica as a grade schooler and now he wants to have sex with her? It was so creepy.


The fact that Ross was the only one who thought Monica and Richard was a weird thing. Like, come on, he probably babysat her as a newborn.


21. And, finally, Ross being annoyed at Ben playing with "girly" toys.


I love this show to death. But the episode where Ben was playing with a doll and Ross was so upset by it bugged me so much. Let the kid play and be a kid without your fragile masculinity ruining his fun.


Some submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

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