Friends or if you want to be very specific then F.R.I.E.N.D.S is the true definition of an evergreen show.
Even after a full 25 years of its inception, completing its silver anniversary and almost 15 years since it ended, the show is still being talked about.
There are only a few rare shows that have ever managed this level of popularity and relevancy on such a massive global level.
But with all this love there is equal amounts of criticism that the show has gotten mainly in terms of representation, offensive jokes and some regressive topics being shown during its run time.
Making A ‘Woke’ Friends Show?
Recently I’ve come across quite a few articles talking about how Friends as a show was problematic, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and basically not ‘woke’ enough.
While I do agree with all those claims, Friends was in no way a perfect show. It had problems, it brought up really sensitive issues that were brushed away as jokes and many other things that do make me cringe a bit watching it now.
If you want truly well-written and woke shows that are the perfect blend of good writing, realistic and yet funny then let me suggest to you either Black-ish or Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
But what I don’t agree with is how some people keep bringing it up as a way to downgrade the show.
Furthermore they want the show to be made more ‘woke’ if in case it does get any type of reunion. This I feel would be one of the biggest catastrophic things that could happen.
Jokes Being Taken Out Of Context
Often times I see many articles pointing out instances like the fat suit of Monica, Rachel employing Tag (her assistant) based on his looks, the male characters making slightly homophobic jokes as solid proof of how backward the show was.
However, we must keep in mind that Friends is not from the last 2000s, in fact it was from early 90s when such topics were still largely left unchecked in mainstream media.
In fact Friends was actually the few shows to actually incorporate an LGBT character in a pretty prominent role and even feature a whole lesbian wedding.
I also feel as if many people take some of the jokes or dialogues out of context and choose to view them in singularity.
One of them is Ross being mean to Susan, his ex-wife Carol’s current partner that many take as homophobic.
While I don’t deny that Ross has some issues with that and masculanity in general, another instance being when he couldn’t digest a male nanny, it doesn’t always work that way.
Because… are we forgetting that Carol basically cheated on Ross with Susan while she was still married to him?
Of course, Ross won’t be polite and friendly with the woman who according to him broke his marriage. He is in no way obligated to do so.
Would we have expected the same if it was a straight relationship? Being cheated on never feels good and so Ross’s awkwardness around Susan and Carol kind of makes sense.
Also in the male nanny episode and some others too we got hints on how society and even his own parents enforced toxic male traits on him, making him hide any so called ‘feminine’ characteristics that he might have had.
People also accuse Chandler of being transphobic to his father. And though some Chandler’s action do border on homophobic, him not being cool with his father I don’t think has much to do with him being a transgender.
Instead it was how his family dealt with the whole transition and the way it affected his childhood that drove a wedge between his father and him.
There have been several episodes where Chandler has commented on how alone he used to be as a child. His parents would not come to after school activities and he would often spend the holidays with the help. So to him, as a kid it was more about his father not being there when he needed him.
Not Everything Has To Be Woke
A TV critic at EW has perfectly written on why it is not fair to hold Friends as a show to the same degree as we hold current shows to.
“But Friends wasn’t made today; it began nearly a quarter-century ago, and it ended 15 years ago. Pop culture should be aspirational, but it also reflects the society as it exists in the moment it was made. It’s not particularly productive to hold Friends (or anything else from past eras) up to 2019 standards — and it’s disingenuous to scold the show for failing to adhere to a level of discourse that literally did not exist in mainstream pop culture at the time.”
To be honest, I genuinely believe that if Friends was to be made more woke… it would lose that evergreen format to it.
As a viewer, Friends feels like that show which I can pick up any time and any episode and watch it without any problem.
Shows like How I Met Your Mother and all have not been able to stand the test of time and their jokes and storylines have gotten stale as I grew up.
But Friends is one of those shows where you can leave behind your issues and worries and just enjoy a non-problematic 20 minutes, having fun.
It’s literally like those 2-3 hours when you’re hanging out with your friends somehow all the problems of the world, life, mental, emotional and more cease to exist.
You can just have a soothing time and that is somehow what Friends has remained. An uncomplicated and vague type of show which doesn’t tackle serious issues head on and thus allows us a show that we can turn to any time, any day.
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