Whether you loved it or loathed it, the David Crane and Marta Kauffman crafted series about six people living their lives in New York City was a cultural staple for most of the ‘90s and a good deal of the ‘00s. Though buzz about a continuation (and at times, a feature film) has entered the news cycle several times over the past few years, there are a few things that should not make it into a new production of Friends, should one happen.
In particular, the gay jokes that were littered across the original series are best left on the cutting room floor. Though many have documented them, there are some offensive lines which, when looked at now, made the collective Screen Rant writing staff cringe. They are extremely puzzling, especially given the fact that series co-creator David Crane is openly gay.
With that in mind, here are the 15 Most Homophobic Moments On Friends. Not in any particular order, just what horrified us the most.
15. Poetry Makes You Gay
Next to Chandler, the character on the show that seems to have serious problems with people who aren’t straight is Ross. In “The One with Rachel’s New Dress”, Geller’s current girlfriend Emily starts spending time with Susan, the lesbian spouse of his former wife Carol.
Now, you’d think that he wouldn’t worry too much about this, but instead, he freaks out. Scenes in this episode have the man claiming that going to poetry readings makes you gay, playing into the offensive stereotype that non-straight individuals are out to recruit as many people as possible, something that has been proven to be untrue and utterly absurd. In reality, no less a conservative icon than former President Ronald Reagan agreed that one doesn’t choose to be gay, writing in an op-ed that “homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles.” Ross could learn a thing or two from him.
14. Ben And His Barbie
In the episode titled “The One with the Metaphorical Tunnel”, a scene in Monica’s wildly unrealistic apartment has Ross’s ex-wife Carol and her current partner Susan come in to drop off Ben for time with his dad. Upon seeing that his son is carrying a doll, Ross begins to nervously stammer and wonder why his child is playing with what is seen as a girl’s toy.
After being confronted with his fear that his son could grow up to be in “show business” (a subtle dig at another gay stereotype), Ross says he is okay with it before trying to replace the doll with more boyish toys like a monster truck and a G.I. Joe in a later scene. The ‘90s audience howls with laughter at what they see here, while Rachel (channeling what anyone in 2017 would think) calls Ross pathetic for trying to take away what makes Ben happy.
13. Ross And The Doctored Photos Of Chandler
In “The One with the Memorial Service”, Chandler and Ross become members of the alumni site for their university. After getting into a petty argument with each other, the two then begin to post various lies on each other’s personal site page. Eventually, things escalate to a point where Ross writes that Chandler is “very gay” and even tries to post altered images of Chandler in homosexual positions. Later in the show, another gag has a man mistaking Monica for a transvestite. Haha, wow, so funny.
Addressing a fictional character is not normally something one does, but Mr. Geller, you live in New York! It’s one of the most diverse cities in the United States, and the planet itself. What the hell is the matter with you? Why is it that in your view, being gay is an insult?
12. Men Can’t Enjoy Musicals
In season nine’s “The One where Emma Cries”, Chandler falls asleep during an important meeting at his job that no one could ever seem to figure out entirely and inadvertently agrees to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma as a result of his carelessness. Throughout the episode, he spends his time trying to figure out how to best break the news to Monica. And when he does, she says some offensive stuff when they meet at Ross’ apartment.
During a scene in Ross’ apartment where Chandler announces the move, Monica says she doesn’t want to go and doesn’t even want to see the musical titled Oklahoma. After Chandler sites two songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein crafted piece, Mrs. Bing says the following in a rather rude tone of voice…
“Are you trying to tell me that we’re moving to Oklahoma, or that you’re gay?”
11. Chandler’s Insecurity About His Friendship With Joey
Another later era episode of the show, another gay joke that wouldn’t fly today.
In “The One with Ross’s Inappropriate Song”, Joey has too much money at his disposal and, at the suggesting of his more intelligent peers, decides to sink some of it into real estate. During a visit to Monica’s ex-boyfriend Richard’s apartment, the realtor mistakes Joey and Chandler for a couple, prompting the latter to almost-militantly insist that he and his friend are straight and to repeatedly emphasize that they are DEFINITELY not an intimate pairing.
After that childish blathering, Joey correctly says that Chandler seems pretty insulted by the assumption, and questions whether Chandler thinks he would be good enough for him, were they gay. Chandler then says they’re not having the conversation again, and the awkward exchange ends. Clearly, the writers of this episode hadn’t heard of the slang term Bromance. Men can be just as affectionate with each other as women can. Nothing wrong with it!
10. The Male Nanny
In the world of this show, men just can’t seem to do anything that breaks with masculine conventions. Sure, we’re all familiar with Joey and his bag, and the resulting harassment he got for enjoying it, but there’s also the example of Freddie Prinze Jr’s male nanny named Sandy.
In the episode where he makes his appearance (“The One with the Male Nanny”), Ross and Rachel interview him for a position to watch over Emma. While Rachel (who showed some maturity earlier on this list) thinks he’s great, Ross is instantly uncomfortable and immediately asks if Sandy is gay. To him, a man who cries in an apartment three times and takes care of a child is some sort of freak, best avoided like the plague. It’s sad and utterly absurd reasoning, to say the least.
9. Calling A Transgender Person Non-Human
Over the years on the show, the writers repeatedly dipped into the well of Chandler and his non-traditional family to great audience amusement, and this time was no different. In the first part of “The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding”, a scene at the rehearsal dinner has Ross’s father Jack meeting Chandlers parents. Upon meeting Chandler’s mother Nora, Mr. Geller says the following:
“So, are you his mother or his father?”
After being rebuked by his wife, Elliott Gould then says that “he’s never seen one before” before sulking about how he didn’t even get a chance to act as if he was okay with it. Yes, because apparently, it’s totally cool to think transgendered people are less than human. Clearly, the ‘90s were a strange decade, one that would be fertile ground for today’s Jared Leto, who once referred to the trans character he portrayed in Dallas Buyers Club as a “beautiful creature” in an awards acceptance speech.
8. Ross’s Student Loves Him
This one is a double helping of stupid. In the episode “The One with Joey’s Award”, a male student fails one of Ross’s midterm exams, and as a means to get his grade bumped up, he claims that he was unable to concentrate during the testing due to his crush on Ross.
Later in the show, Ross finds out that this is just a scheme, and he confronts the student on it. After saying, “You don’t love me and you never did”, the camera shot then shows us several of Ross’s university colleagues in the same room as a means to embarrass David Schwimmer’s character. Haha, they think he’s gay, get it?
Both of the plot points here that are played for laughs are seriously problematic. Hardly a month goes by without some teacher making the news for an inappropriate relationship with a student and, often, unrequited love can drive those whose affections are rejected to suicide, both straight and gay individuals.
7. Play The Role Super Gay
In season 3’s “The One with the Race Car Bed”, Joey gets a gig teaching soap opera acting to aspiring performers. After a while, one of his students reveals that he is up for a role on All My Children that Joey also wants. Now, a professional actor (and a remotely mature one to boot) would probably just try to win the part fair and square, but no, dimwitted Joey is beneath that.
Instead, he tells the rival performer to play the role from a heavily homosexual angle. In his mind, this character choice will cause producers to reject him, but instead, his rival ends up getting the part.
He calls this take on Nick the Boxer stupid and bemoans his luck. This moment on the show is an offensive nod to the fact that often in Hollywood, straight actors taking on a gay role is seen as a career killer.
6. The Academy Award Parties
In 1992’s “The One with Phoebe’s Husband”, guest star (and underrated character actor) Steve Zahn makes an appearance as Duncan, the secret green card husband of Kudrow’s character. In the episode, it’s established that he is gay (working in figure skating is yet another lame stereotype played for laughs) and that Phoebe only married him so he could stay in America and not be deported to Canada.
Later, he reveals that he is indeed straight. In a scene that riffs on the often-emotional process of coming out (again, this would be excoriated today for mocking something so important), Phoebe doesn’t understand the news and says that it doesn’t make sense because he throws “such great Academy Award parties.”
The complete absurdity of this stereotype is (hopefully) evident. Award shows simply set out to honor some form of media, and each is likely made up of — and watched by — folks of all sexual orientations. This one is about as logical as saying that throwing a party to watch the premiere of Game of Thrones makes one violent.
5. Drinking Beer From The Can
The pilot episode of Friends was a production of many firsts. There was the first dumb comment from Chandler, the first visit to Central Perk, Phoebe’s first weird Phoebe thing, and of course, the first of many dickish comments from everyone’s favorite Dinosaur Dude, Ross Geller.
During scenes set at his apartment (which is practically empty, with ex-wife Carol having taken most of the items), Ross picks up a can of beer and claims that because Carol drank it straight from the can, he “should’ve known” she was a lesbian.
This plays into weird butch stereotypes and is insulting to empowered ladies everywhere. A woman can drink out of a can just as much as a man can sip wine out of a dainty glass. Now, and even then, it said absolutely nothing about one’s sexual orientation.
4. The Ride Along
Featuring guest star Michael Rapaport as Phoebe’s then cop boyfriend Gary, this episode has Chandler, Ross, and Joey participating in an evening ride-along in his patrol car. While Chandler exhibits cowardice and Joey brings along a sandwich in the backseat, Ross sits up in the front for the early bit of the excursion.
While here, Chandler decides to exhibit some of the low-key homophobia that his character became known for. During a debate between the trio about who would be more of a cop, Ross says that he would be because, due to being in the front seat, he is basically Gary’s partner. Prompting Chandler to say that when Ross says that word, it doesn’t sound cop, it sounds gay.
3. Men Can’t Dance
In “The One with the Ballroom Dancing”, simpleton Joey Tribbiani nearly gets Monica and Rachel evicted from their apartment. After they order him to fix the situation, he goes to the landlord Mr. Treeger and says he will do anything as a means to get his friends to stay in their home.
Treeger then requests that Joey help him learn how to dance in order to prepare for an upcoming landlord themed event, as he is too shy to practice with girls. Later, when he enters into the apartment, Monica asks her friend how the dancing is going, and inquires if Joey is gay yet.
This one’s pretty straightforward, but dancing with someone of the same gender doesn’t make you gay. Fred Astaire did duets with Gene Kelley and no one cared. Here, Monica is just being bigoted and playing into offensive stereotypes.
2. Carol, Lesbian
In ‘The One with the Truth About London”, Rachel is asked by Ross to babysit Ben for a bit, and she teaches him various practical jokes that end up driving his ass of a father nuts. Later in the show, Rachel visits Carol and Susan’s apartment to talk to Ben about his mischief, where she also bumps into Ross.
He asks her what she’s doing there, and in response, Rachel says she’s visiting her good friend Carol. When Ross asks what her last name is, Rachel (who’d showed such maturity earlier in the show!) says “Carol…Lesbian.”
The audience busts a gut at this and thinks it’s fine, but it’s not. Reducing a character down to a one-note item is pretty obnoxious. Had the show cast a minority actress in the role and had Rachel say that her name was “Carol…Asian” instead, it probably wouldn’t have gone over as well.
1. Chandler’s Dad
Yes, Chandler’s dad is transgender. Yes, that would obviously be quite a shock for any young child. But the way the funny one in the group of six treated his parent through the years is downright pathetic.
Repeatedly, he mocks his own father and his sexuality. And, during the run-up to his wedding with Monica, he reveals that he decided to not invite his dad and had rebuffed various attempts by his father to make contact through the years. Even though, as he notes, his dad was still involved in his life after he transitioned.
If your parent still goes to your swim meets after making a significant life change like that and has never mistreated you, Monica would probably also call them a great parent. It’s a shame her husband couldn’t grow up and do the same thing.
Are there any other homophobic moments from Friends that stand out to you? Let us know in the comments.
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