When your job is a joke, you're broke and your love life is DOA, they'll be there for you - or will they? How many times were the so-called friends in Friends the exact opposite of a friend?
While no one can ever be a perfect friend, Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Joey, Monica, and Phoebe set the bar pretty low for what it means to be a decent buddy. Sure, they stuck by one another for the most part, but there are scenes where any sane person would have burned a bridge rather put up with their friend. Their antics often left us thinking that, while they were funny to watch, we were pleased that they weren't our own friends.
Sure, it would be awesome to have a renowned chef as a roommate, but not one as neurotic and obsessive as Monica. While Chandler is the king of the one-liner, why does no one ever laugh at his jokes? Why is Ross's intellectualism somehow more spoof-worthy than Joey's tendency to be an airhead?
We tend to turn our heads away from the inconsistencies, issues and even disturbing behavior that certainly wouldn't be tolerated on TV today in the name of our love for the beloved '90s sitcom. Nostalgia looks best in rose-colored glasses, after all.
From Joey's idiocy to the "friends" being enablers, here are 20 Things Wrong With Friends We All Choose To Ignore.
20 Monica's Attitude
The type-A control freak that everyone loves to roll their eyes at has given us so many wonderful moments, from Monana to that weird carrot thing. Monica Geller has also been a complete tool and when the burning realization of that fact creeps up our necks, we shake our heads and continue with the rest of the episode, often as if it never happened.
There was the time she brought appropriation to new heights with her cornrows obsession. She assumed her maid stole from her just because she was the maid. How about all of the times that she would freak out if someone didn't use a coaster or dared to help out around the apartment only for her friends to discover her secret closet of shame?
When Monica pushed Chandler to spend all of his saved money on their wedding (or their big party, as he kept referring to it) and later opened all of their presents without him, it proved beyond a doubt what a selfish person she could be. You don't do those things to someone you love. Had the roles been reversed there would have been outrage over a man steamrolling his wife that way.
19 Ross Is A Cheater, Among Other Things
"We were on a break!" We get it, Ross, and the joke became so overused that nobody laughed with the laugh track the dozenth or so time that you said it.
Even if we buy that (and it's a weak argument at best, and one of the things fans do manage to deem unforgivable about Ross Geller), what about the times that Ross cheated on both Bonnie and Julie? Do we ignore that simply because they are not Rachel? It still makes Ross a cheater and normalizes cheating in the show. Ross also dated one of his own students, which he merely said was "frowned upon" instead of admitting it was a blatant violation of academic integrity, among other things.
There's a reason why people have made videos on YouTube featuring clips of Ross's worst misbehavior without the laugh track.
Without the laugh track, he sounds like a psychopath. From the time he asked a self-defense trainer for advice on fighting women because when he tried attacking two women it "didn't work" to the angry behavior of "mental Ross" who wrote angry letters and refused to get along with anyone at work, there are really too many moments to ignore.
18 Joey Gets Dumber
When Friends began, Joey Tribbiani was a likable enough guy. Yes, he had his famous womanizing ways, but he was also a somewhat clever guy who managed to make jokes that, if not as frequent and funny as Chandler Bing's quips, still garnered his share of chuckles out of the audience. Why did he slowly transform into the fool we all knew and either loved or hated by the end of the finale?
Even those who look at Joey as the gratuitous Italian trope know that he should have exhibited much more street smarts and common sense than he tended to have later in the show.
There was the time Joey guessed, "A ghost! A rock! A dog! The earth!" on a game show when the question was, "What do you put in your coffee?" When their fridge broke, Joey told Chandler he had to eat all of their food before it went bad and didn't know "what was in that brown jar." Then there was the time he argued that something was a "moo point... like a cow's opinion," because a cow's opinion doesn't matter.
Okay, some of those moments are hilarious enough to explain why Joey gets hit with the stupid stick, but we still ignore the fact that it happened. Joey also started out as a womanizer, but more about that later.
17 Phoebe And Joey Are Broke But Don't Live Like It
What exactly are Joey and Phoebe living off of - his smolder and her cat songs? Do the two have secret trust funds we don't know about? Maybe Monica is footing their bills since she's such an accomplished chef.
Someone has to be putting a roof over their heads and food in their bellies because they sure aren't doing it themselves.
Joey is constantly out of work as a struggling actor, and Phoebe does such weird, random, ill-paying gigs that she couldn't possibly afford to support herself at all, let alone in New York City.
According to one fan theory, Chandler paid for Joey's existence for at least three years, meaning the actor owes him roughly $64,000. As a massage therapist, Phoebe was able to make more money, but it still wouldn't be much to live in Manhattan.
Many viewers have since come to terms with the fact that most of the Friends characters really wouldn't survive on any of their incomes in the city today, especially with the lifestyle that the five friends live. Between their parties (with so many random friends we never see except during their parties), constant drinking at Central Perk, shopping, and other activities, none of them would be able to live on any of their salaries without renting a studio apartment. Sharing rent cuts costs, but not enough to support that standard of living.
16 The Kids Are Rarely Shown
There's a reason why people say everything changes once you have children. It's because everything really does change. Kids aren't an accessory you can pack away and take out when the plot calls for it, as Friends seems to imply, but living, breathing, and oh so demanding creatures. That's especially true immediately following birth.
While we get that if we just watched Emma barf all over Rachel as Rachel sleepily changed her diapers and fed her at two A.M. each episode it would become dull rather quickly, it's also highly unrealistic to portray a new mom without half of the perils and hardships that come with motherhood.
This is a problem with a lot of shows. When you have kids, they are there 24/7 unless you pay for help. While movies about this very phenomenon exist to help illustrate the sacrifice that comes with the territory, TV shows exist to help the very people suffering from no sleep, no alone time, and no showers escape from that world for half an hour and laugh about frivolous matters. While this one is easier to let slide simply due to that fact, it's still a gaping hole where parents know some crayon stains and smashed Cheerios should be.
15 The "Friends" Are Insensitive Enablers
If Friends aired for the first time today, people would find it pretty problematic on many fronts. The characters are enablers who, instead of helping their friends with their problems, only exacerbate them out of selfishness.
While Chandler didn't have Pinterest boards explaining proper self-care or a social media crew peering at his every post to judge his behavior, he still should have known not to mess about with Eddie's mental illness. Convincing his friend that he never lived with Chandler in the first place may have been funny to some in the '90s, but today, more people are aware of mental illness and at least strive to be more mindful of how they treat people.
He wasn't alone, of course. When Monica decided that "Fun Bobby" needed to quit drinking, it seemed as if her heart was in the right place. Most alcoholics or people who love them know that you can't treat an addiction without the person wanting to change himself, but Bobby goes for it. When people proclaim that Bobby isn't fun anymore (with Chandler dubbing him "Ridiculously Dull Bobby"), Monica decides to drink heavily around him. This is terrible behavior, even for Monica, but luckily for Bobby, he decides to opt out of what he dubs a codependent relationship.
14 Rampant Homophobia And Transphobia
Once upon a time, people joked about transphobic and homophobic very casually on TV.
From jabs at Chandler's father Charles, who starred in a drag show as a beautiful woman played by Kathleen Turner, to jokes at the expense of Ross's ex-wife, who was a lesbian, Friends frequently took cheap shots at marginalized people in the name of humor and audiences unfortunately ate it up at the time. Turner herself says that she accepted the role because there wasn't much representation of trans people on television at the time, but she agrees that it hasn't "aged well," going on to say that it was a sitcom and not a social commentary.
Today pretty much every piece of media is taken as social commentary, since it's all woven into the same fabric of our lives.
Comedy is always better when it's punching up, not down.
More people are becoming aware of how hurtful it is to poke fun at a disenfranchised person's identity, and while there's still so much more work to be done, the jokes that Friends made at the expense of the LGBTQ community are largely condemned today. Newcomers to the show are not having it and many of those who watched it initially are now seeing it,though they may have ignored it at the time.
13 Rachel Sabotages Everyone's Love Lives to Benefit Her Own
If Friends were The Brady Bunch, Rachel Green would be "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" Despite being considered the most attractive of the friends, Rachel doesn't seem to be able to accept competition from anyone when it comes to her love life to the point of what would be considered abusive behavior today.
When Rachel feels like Bonnie is a threat to her, she convinces the woman to shave her head, prompting Ross to behave just as she expected him to. Making fun of a bald woman is another problem with Friends entirely.
In order to kick Julie to the curb, Rachel disperses terrible romantic advice to Ross so Julie will dump him. She also tells Phoebe that Tag is gay in order to cut the competition and keep him to herself. The fact that she hires Tag just because he's hot and wants a shot with him is even worse.
Rachel's constant need to sabotage everyone else's love life to help her maintain her own not only demonstrates that she's a terrible friend, but that's she's much more insecure than you might think just looking at her.
Today's viewers would be much more interested in a storyline addressing that fact and how she comes to terms with it.
12 Joey Sabotages his students
Rachel isn't the only friend who is selfish. One could argue that all of the friends exhibit their selfishness in extreme ways at least sometimes, but when Joey decided to sabotage his own acting student when the young man went up against him for a part that he wanted in season three, it was too much.
It was bad enough that he gloated over how the clueless kids in his acting class knew less than he did. Any new teacher would be at least a little excited about sharing knowledge with their students. Nope, Joey had to go even further and not only offer his student what he considered to be poor advice for a role they both wanted in order to sabotage him, but he appeared to be pretty homophobic in the process.
Fans may recall that Joey instructed the student to play the role of a boxer as gay, believing that would make him lose the part. Not only does that imply that a boxer can't be gay or that playing a gay character is something to at best avoid, but it also demonstrates what a terrible teacher Joey ended up being after all of his excitement about the job.
The best compliment a teacher can receive is his student succeeding, but Joey set up his student to fail. The joke was on him, of course, since the kid won the role in the end.
11 Rachel Moving To Paris With Emma
When Rachel and Ross had Emma, things were complicated, to say the least. While families with separated parents and single parents are more common than ever, those families usually come to some sort of custody agreement in order to split time with their children as fairly as possible.
When Rachel decides to move to France, however, there is very little discussion about Emma. Ross convinces Rachel to stay because he doesn't want Rachel to leave. While it's mentioned that Rachel's mother will bring Emma, everyone pretty much ignores the fact that not only does Ross seem to not care, but that he bailed on moving to England for Emily because he couldn't bear to leave his son, Ben, behind in the states.
You don't just whisk your child away to another state, let alone an entire different continent, without the consent of his or her other parent.
There's usually some legal work involved if parents are separated and the parent being left behind would certainly demand some sort of vision rights if he cared anything about the child in the first place. Maybe Ross just loves Ben more than Emma? He certainly seems to love her mother more than his own daughter.
10 Ross's attitude toward women
For the intellectual, forward thinker of the group, Ross can often be one of the most sexist pigs in the room.
For starters, there was the episode where Ben wanted to play with Barbies and Ross was just outraged ay the idea.
It's one thing if his horror stemmed from Ben getting the wrong idea about women's bodies from the Barbie's proportions, but it's pretty clearly because he thought that his son shouldn't play with dolls.Today's culture would label that as toxic masculinity. Another example occurs when he meets Sandy, the "manny" or male nanny, whom Ross goggles at and insists must at least "be bi" since he watches children for a living.
It's too bad Ross wasn't able to see Andy Bailey, the "manny" of Modern Family, decades later. Not only is Andy one of the most beloved characters on the show but he demonstrates what an excellent nanny a guy can be.
Way to limit men, encourage sexism, and reduce childcare to "women's work," Ross! Some people still insist that this was a funny joke, and this type of jab isn't dead just yet. The joke of the incompetent but attractive "manny," albeit in a different way, is used in This Is Us as a joke bout Kevin Pearson's career.
9 Chandler Constantly Uses and Mistreats Janice
That laugh. That voice. Just the sheer volume of the woman. Janice Litman may have seemed obnoxious on the surface, but fans are just now realizing that she was not only the best girlfriend that Chandler ever had, but likely one of the most decent characters on the show.
Not only was Janice an actual nice person who exhibited kindness and caring, but she was also clever enough to make us laugh without her voice. The rest of the cast behaves so much worse than Janice, but she is such a forgiving person that she still attempts to make friends with them.
Joey, for example, can't stand Janice, and instead of being hurt, she offers to spend time with him to help them become friends not for her own ego, but for Chandler's sake. Chandler, on the other hand, breaks up with her through Phoebe, asks her out again just so he doesn't have to be lonely on New Year's Eve, then breaks up with her again because she's just so annoying.
The fact that Chandler is able to remain with a bunch of friends who aren't nearly as considerate as a woman who happens to have a unique laugh says a lot more about him than it does about Janice. The truth is, Chandler, you don't deserve her. Maybe Monica opening all of your presents is just karma.
8 Joey Is Sleazy
He's hunky and he's funny, so he manages to get away with it, but we all know and choose to ignore the fact that Joey is a total sleazeball.
When we see less attractive men do what Joey does we condemn it, but somehow his behavior is brushed off as being "cute." It's really not cute to imagine your best female friends having relations with you. It's definitely not cute to not call a woman after she has been with you and expects you to give her a call. It's downright deplorable to accept a woman as your roommate only because you hope to get in her pants at some point.
If Joey were a cartoon character, he'd be the drooling, bug-eyed creep who howls, stomps his feet, and pants after any female character who enters the scene.
That kind of "Hello, nurse!" attitude became outdated a long time ago and reruns featuring Joey's sleaziness have definitely dated his character. If Friends were remade today with a new cast and new writers, Joey's character might still be a goofball and handsome, but he would definitely be more respectful toward women-- perhaps a Jake Peralta or Terry Jeffords from Brooklyn Nine-Nine kind of guy.
7 Joey Being Mocked For Liking "Girly" Things
Way before the whole "metrosexual" idea and certainly long, long ago prior to today's more widely accepted gender fluidity, men enjoying things like using their own bags or wearing makeup was considered taboo by society. The double standard even hit home for an actor like Joey, for whom being ridiculed for wearing makeup was once the norm, particularly in a time when people only thought of Marilyn Manson and Billie Joe Armstrong as wearing - and rocking - it.
Today, Joey's man bag and makeup would not just be accepted, but embraced - especially if he had supportive friends who didn't make fun of his life choices.
Many men carry bags (how else are they supposed to carry all of their stuff? Most of it doesn't fit in a wallet) and there are entire subscription boxes devoted to men's facial needs. News anchors are even giving tutorials on their own daily makeup routines on YouTube and there are male Covergirl models.
Even if none of these were commonplace, it's still not cool to rip on your friend's life choices as long as they aren't hurting anyone-- especially if they're the same things the rest of your friends, who just happen to be women, are doing, too.
6 Chandler Is Obsessed With His Own Orientation
What is it with these people and anyone who isn't a cis straight person? Chandler takes this obsession to a whole new level by not only wisecracking about anyone who isn't like himself, but also worrying that people believe that he is gay!
After Chandler discovers that some people indeed think that he is gay, he worries about it to the point of weirdness, rendering him a very insecure and homophobic character that would not sit well with people today. He worries about everything from having a pink pillow to dispensing hugs.
Could you imagine Chandler in a country where men are expected to kiss other men in greeting? The storyline is so prevalent that, while many just ignore it or take it as another weak joke, others expected Chandler to leave Monica at the altar, declare her his beard, and let freedom ring as he rides off into the sunset with Colin Firth. Okay, maybe very few people pictured that scenario, but it would work well if the show were rebooted today.
Chandler, there are a many worse things for people to think about you. They might think that you're a homophobic tool, or a jerk who mistreats his girlfriends and toys with their hearts just so he won't be alone or bored. Oh, wait...
5 Almost no diversity
After 10 seasons in New York, how could they only find two people of color to be featured prominently on the show? Sure, there were scattered, minor characters here and there, particularly at the strange parties the friends threw with people we only saw at their parties and nowhere else in the series - but the only recurring characters we saw who weren't white were Ross's girlfriends Julie and Dr. Charlie Wheeler.
Why are the only people of color in this show thrown in as love interests for Ross?
"At least they were good characters," those who ignore this detail may argue, but that's really irrelevant. Representation matters. According to researchers from the University of Southern California, there's a Hollywood inclusion crisis going on, with fewer than 29% of speaking roles being taken by non-white actors even though 40% of the population isn't white. That means that at least two of the main characters should have been people of color.
Modern times are finally seeing many more inclusive films and TV shows, from Blackish to Luke Cage, but there's still a long way to go. A rebooted Friends would also need a much more diverse cast to fit with the times.
4 Monica's Free Time
Monica is supposed to be the head chef at a restaurant in the city, which sounds like a pretty busy gig. We've all seen enough celebrity chef shows by now to know that all good chefs supposedly have this one thing in common: they're all so busy and in such high demand that they don't have time for a social life.
With this in mind, we now know that a professional chef in a popular restaurant shouldn't have that much time on her hands, yet Monica seems to be able to sit around and do a lot of nothing, like a lot. For someone whose career seems to be going quite well, she doesn't seem to work all that much.
Plus, what about all of the rest of the friends? They never seem to be at work.
While it makes sense for viewers to see them more in their leisure time, there was very little time devoted to their work lives, which is weird since that's 40 hours of their week-- for some of them, anyway. Including character's work in sitcoms offers a wider range of comedic opportunities and diverse characters. Perhaps this is so easy to overlook because so many people want to escape from their own work lives with the show.
3 Body Shaming Galore
"Fat Monica" is a joke that would still unfortunately be widely accepted today, but it would fall on more disapproving ears than it did in the 1990s.
As portrayed by Courteney Cox in a fat suit, "Fat Monica" was treated not as a sympathetic character, but as someone to be pitied and ridiculed; the butt of a continuous joke that the friends enjoyed dredging up.
Joey's joke that "some girl ate Monica" while they all laugh at a video of Monica in her prom dress would hopefully qualify as bullying in most circles today.
It's not even enough that Monica was fat shamed and miserable in high school. She also has to continue to deal with the ridicule long after she lost the weight. The catalyst for her losing the weight, which was a comment that Chandler made while ridiculing her, supports the toxic and erroneous theory that by shaming overweight people we can motivate them to lose weight.
Overweight people know they are overweight and they don't just suddenly decide to get thin based on someone's words. There are a variety of factors at play, some of which we're just now understanding, and we now know that shaming them actually has the opposite effect than what's intended.
Using Monica's weight as a continuous joke is just mean, plain and simple.
2 Is Phoebe Even Really A "Friend"?
She flakes on everyone all the time, gets mad at them for no reason, and steals a little girl's cat. She's the friend we'd all ditch in real life.
Phoebe Buffay routinely proves that she's a blatantly bad friend - and not in the subtle, subversive way the rest of her friends are but in an obvious way that everyone chooses to ignore because, let's face it, the woman is hilarious.
She's sabotaged Joey's Christmas tree sales and guitar lessons, exposed her friends' secrets (remember when she told Chandler about Monica wanting to get with Joey?), is terrible to her boyfriend David, ignores her own roommate, mocks Chandler, and even admitted to stabbing a cop once!
She also makes zero sense. Phoebe has nothing in common with the rest of the characters, so why is she even one of them? It makes sense to have a "quirky" friend, but she's so vastly different from the rest of the cast that she ought to be someone who shows up in random stories as the wild girl they knew in high school or the prankster in college, not as an actual adult friend who they all still regularly hang out with.
1 Rachel And Ross's Ridiculous Relationship
Although they are often cited as an iconic TV couple, Rachel and Ross might as well be as toxic as The Joker and Harley Quinn.
Think about it: from "We were on a break!" to Ross stalking Rachel when she was just having lunch with her friend Mark to Ross saying Rachel's name during his wedding with Emily, there are deep flaws. These are classic examples of a toxic relationship at play.
The simple fact that Ross couldn't trust Rachel alone when she went out with a friend for lunch speaks volumes about their relationship status.
He also sent her such an unnecessary amount of gifts when she started her job not to truly congratulate her but to stake his claim like a caveman. Ross couldn't even give Rachel messages from men due to his own jealousy, and he told prospective suitors that they were "kind of a thing" when they weren't actually a thing at all at the time. Yet they were on a break.
It goes back to the idea that Ross is sexist and manipulative, and Rachel's no walk in the park herself. Perhaps the two were made for each other, but they certainly weren't made to inspire other couples about what love should look like.
Did we miss anything else wrong with Friends? Let us know in the comments!