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8 Things From 'Friends' That Wouldn't Fly Today

Collider logo Collider 8/13/2022 Ashley Amber
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Friends is one of the most iconic sitcoms in television history, airing on NBC for 10 seasons from 1994 through 2004. But it's precisely that decade-long timeframe that made the show susceptible to telling "jokes" that simply would not fly in 2022.

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From the abundance of homophobia and transphobia to the unbelievable gender stereotypes and jokes surrounding people's looks, Friends is full of content that a modern sitcom would not be able get away with today – things that may just make audiences cringe while they watch all those reruns on TBS or binge-watch the entire series on HBO Max.

*Warning: this article includes subject matter relating to homophobia, transphobia, and sexual assault*

"I Married A Lesbian!"

It's hard to think of Ross and forget the fact that he was once married to a lesbian. That's because Friends relentlessly reminds the audience of this fact, and even made his ex-wife Carol & her new partner Susan the butt of several jokes throughout the series.

Homophobia this blatant would definitely not be seen on television today, especially when so many characters and couples in recent years are celebrated for being LGBTQ+, and real "friends" wouldn't make fun of or resent someone for a situation like this either.

Chandler's Transphobia

The 90s made a very bad habit of making jokes at the expense of the LGBTQ+, Friends notwithstanding. 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.

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Not only was the transgender character – played by actress Kathleen Turner – joked about at every opportunity, Chandler never even attempted to hide his transphobia, often misgendering his parent and cringing at the sight of her in a dress & makeup at his wedding.

Fat-Shaming

It was always a strange trend in sitcoms to fat-shame overweight characters and joke about their size. How I Met Your Mother did this often with the character Patrice, following in the footsteps of Friends, who did the same thing with one of its lead characters.

It's no secret Monica was once overweight, usually seen in flashbacks to her teenage years. But when the sole purpose of making a character overweight is simply to insult them or joke about it, it's not exactly funny, and definitely not something any reputable television show would do today.

The Male Nanny

Who doesn't remember "The One with the Male Nanny" from Season 9? The episode centers around Ross and Rachel's search for a nanny to watch Emma, and despite Freddie Prince Jr. playing an excellent nanny who is beloved by Rachel, Ross had some serious issues with the situation.

Ross makes clear his dislike of having a nanny who is male, going as far as to ask Prince's character his sexual preferences, assuming he must be gay if he's a male nanny. The whole episode is problematic on Ross' end from start to finish, but at least Rachel was well with the times.

Ugly Naked Guy

Despite his face never being shown on screen, Ugly Naked Guy is a memorable character from the show. He's the man who lives in the building across the friends' signature apartment and often walks around unclothed for all the friends to see from the big bay window.

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The issue isn't the character, but the nickname given to him by the group. This verges on more fat-shaming, as Phoebe once admitted that "Ugly Naked Guy" used to be cute before gaining weight, thus why he's now ugly. Even using the word 'ugly' to describe anyone in 2022 is in bad taste (as it was in the 90's, for that matter).

The Immaturity Surrounding Breakfeeding

In a world full of breastfeeding freedoms and Free the Nipple campaigns, it's hard to imagine a time when something as beautiful and natural as breastfeeding was ever a thing of disgust or discomfort.

Friends certainly didn't help the cause when Joey and Chandler simply couldn't handle the sight of seeing Carol breastfeeding Ben. It may have been slightly understandable for the 90's, but their immature reactions would certainly not bode well on television today.

Ben's Dolls

As if Ross couldn't BE any more sexist, he had to go and whine about his toddler son playing with Barbies. His masculinity issues aren't just implied when he attempts to switch out Ben's Barbie for an action figure, Ross literally straight up says to Rachel, "Why is my boy playing with a Barbie?"

Between not being allowed to play with dolls and his sister's male nanny fiasco, the amount of damage Ross probably did to Ben is enough to send Cole Sprouse's character to therapy for the rest of his life.

Workplace Sexual Assault

Any sort of sexual misconduct in the workplace is no laughing matter... unless it's on Friends. While working as a masseuse, Phoebe gets assaulted by a male client, a scene that's met with tons of laughs from the audience.

Rather than addressing the issue of sexual assault in the workplace when Phoebe tells her friends about the incident, it's brushed off to deal with the more pressing matter in the coffee shop: the fact it was Rachel's hot boyfriend who committed the assault.

NEXT: 'Friends': Phoebe Buffay's Greatest Hits, From "Sticky Shoes" to "Smelly Cat"

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