I have to admit I did not like Friends as much this time around since I watched it for the first time 3 years ago. I had forgotten most things that happened aside from some memorable one liners (We were on a break!!!). So after rewatching all 10 seasons again, I realized that while it is a good background show to have you’re doing laundry or whatever and does have moments of great depth and relatability but there are definitely some cons that I just couldn’t ignore. Here are my stray thoughts upon rewatch.
While I absolutely adore comedy today such as The Good Place and Parks and Rec, there is something about the blunt sarcasm in Friends and other sitcoms that I totally love especially when Chandler is talking to Joey or Ross. I missed that from today’s comedies. It is especially apparent in Friends considering the characters are pretty sarcastic personality traits themselves. The jokes become pretty repetitive and formulaic but I didn’t expect anything radically different when it comes to sitcoms.
I would argue that this show revolves around Rachel. The show begins and ends with a big decision that Rachel has to make. I really like her character growth throughout the seasons especially when it came to her career and I wish it had continued during the later seasons. I have to admit, I have a much better appreciation for her now growing up though I wish I could say the same for Ross.
Themes of Friendship!
The greatest thing about Friends is how it so accurately portrays the nature of friendship and big life events that happen when you’re in your late 20’s and early 30’s. Things like quitting your job to pursue something you actually love. Getting fired from your job. When your deepest relationship is with your friends. Trying to get pregnant. Deciding whether to commit to a relationship or even marriage. Deciding if you want kids etc. A lot of their feelings and love and devotion between friends and SO’s, these themes of finding your one true love is of course is as universal now as it was in the 90’s. I truly believe this is what makes Friends really work, the chemistry and bonds between the characters. I absolutely love the episodes when they’re doing things together such as the episode where Ross is trying to hurry everyone up for the paleontology banquet and everyone is taking their goddamn time or all the Thanksgiving episodes.
I understand this show was written in the 90’s but I had no idea how pervasive the “gay” jokes were and it got really annoying after a while. There were whole episodes dedicating to making fun of the guys and whatever feminine habit they adopted. For example, in the episode where Joey carries around a bag, all of the friends make fun of him for carrying a purse. Or the time when Joey’s roommate who is a woman decides to spruce up the apartment and teaches Joey how to arrange flowers and Chandler furiously berates him. Or the time when Chandler plucks Joey’s eyebrows and soon after they insist they have to do something manly in order to idk continue being men? There are also way too many jokes about Ross using lotion (how that’s hilarious I don’t know). Even Monica is implicit in this, often calling Chandler and Joey girls after she does a masculine coded trait. For example, in the last episode of Season 10 she breaks Chandler and Joey’s game table, she says “I’m going to go check on the twins, see ya girls!” You could argue that these male characters do not fit stereotypical male characteristics and that makes it ok that they make fun of each other for not being “manly” cause none of them are anyway. However, it’s clear to me that in the end, the male characters continue to dig themselves deeper into the masculine stereotype they so rigidly define and never get out of it.
On the flip side, I have to give credit where credit is due although I have to admit for every credit, there is a counter..credit?. This show arguably revolves around a female main character who used to be the popular girl and is sexually promiscuous and is not punished for it (even though the show makes too many references to her being slut). Ironically, though, Rachel continues to call Ross’s female love interests sluts or whores. The female friendships between the female characters are so wonderful and there’s numerous episodes revolving around Monica’s and Rachel’s friendship which was great to see.
The prominence of lesbian jokes also became grating. There are so many jokes about Carol being a lesbian for none other than her being a lesbian. But they did at least show Carol and Susan in a caring relationship which is something. The only thing Friends can’t be considered really is racist although how much credit should be given to them considering there were very, very few POC in the show itself? Friends does not quite stand up to the test of time but I do understand it was a product of its time.
Way too many relationships with people who you know they’re going to break up with
There are so many random extras in the show that serve as love interests that last no longer than an episode! It came to a point where I knew something had to be something wrong with the love interest. For example, Ross finds a love interest who was interested in his paleontology book in the library. She seems to be perfect: she loves paleontology and is also very good looking but come to find out she has a disgusting apartment and is a hoarder. I was frustrated at the number of “filler” love interests that came in that stood no real chance and that kind of took the fun out of it for me. I really like that Phoebe ended up with someone outside of the group, plus her and Mike are the real OTP to me.
Ross and Rachel storyline
Obviously this storyline is very hit or miss with audiences. While I found them entertaining, I never understood the appeal especially near the end, when people would come in and out of their lives and you knew they were going to break up because of course Ross and Rachel were going to end up together. Honestly, if I had it my way, I would have paired Ross with Julie from Season 2 or Charlie from Season 10 and Ross would have been with Gavin though admittedly maybe these options would not have provided enough tension? I did like that through this on and off relationship though we get to explore Ross and Rachel’s insecurities and flaws from Ross’s fear of Rachel cheating on him to both of their respective possessiveness. It would have been nice if some of those flaws had been addressed before you know, Rachel gave up a dream job in Paris for him but who cares about that when you have a hot on and off relationship with Ross right? There is a definite appeal to their story but I got tired of it very easily.
Chandler and Monica
Chandler and Monica have some very sweet moments. I especially loved Chandler’s speech to the mother about adopting her kids when Chandler tells her I’ll learn to be a good dad once the baby is born but Monica? She’s already there. She’s a mother without a baby. But I did not like their relationship dynamic after the initial stages, it just made it seem like Monica was a mom and Chandler was her kid. Chandler had so much character development from his commitment issues to opening up about his feelings and being more emotionally mature but Monica? her character development went to a standstill after she broke up with Richard which on this rewatch, I’m forever bitter about it. They were so freaking good for each other. I was also bothered by the fact that hereafter whenever Richard was mentioned, Chandler got really, really insecure about it and Monica had to convince him that he was better than Richard (even though in what ways I cannot tell you) considering Monica basically spent the entire relationship tutoring Chandler on how to even be in a relationship. Chandler did get better near the end though.
The biggest issue I have with Friends is the constant usage of lying to build conflict. Every single episode is built on someone telling a lie to another friend and by the end, the truth is revealed. It made it really hard to understand why they were even friends and made it hard to distinguish their motives from one another. It does do very well setting up drama though. I was reading this one review about Friends and he stated that Friends was basically “a soap opera disguising itself as a comedy” which I have to agree with.
– I think the Vegas episodes after Season 5 were among the best of the entire series. I completely love the Rachel and Ross dynamic (among the best of their acting) and their little marriage storyline was so funny
“Heelllooooo Mrs. Ross, Hellloooo Mr. Rachel!! LOL
-lots of filler storylines near the end – like Ross wearing a girl’s shirt, Joey not liking sharing food, Monica’s hair problem at the beginning
– ross and rachel storyline is sooo overdrawn. It should have ended at least 3 seasons earlier. literally everyone was better than them for ross and rachel than either of them.
-those computers and cellphones look so much older and bulkier after 3 years of not watching this show
-how awkward must it be if you say someone else’s name other than your betrothed at your own wedding? I’m looking at you Ross..
-is it just me but did Joey just get dumber and dumber with each season?
-it was so funny when the friends made fun of Ross for how many marriages he’s had