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Why People Should Cut 'Friends' Some Slack

The 90s cult classic can't catch a break

By Eve VolungeviciutePublished 11 months ago 3 min read

If you take one look at Buzzfeed, you will see at least three articles written in the past six months with something along the lines of “21 times Friends was super problematic” or “Why Ross Gellar is the worst”. Sure, this show does have its moments, but is the constant badgering it is receiving warranted? I don’t think so.

First of all, Friends is absolutely a product of its time. Certain subjects do reflect badly when watching in 2023, however, the same can be said for any type of content. People will probably say this about media twenty years from now and they will have a point. These days especially when political correctness is always expected, certain scenes can raise one’s eyebrow. While this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make a note of it perhaps it would be beneficial to do so in a more celebratory perspective of how far we’ve come as a society. Besides, there are way more recent series that have their fair share of problematic moments and frankly, don’t receive nearly half the backlash.

Another point people make all the time is that Ross Gellar is the worst friend/boyfriend/father/whatever and that he and Rachel are the most toxic couple to ever exist. They absolutely have some grounds for this argument – Ross is quite judgemental and has possessive tendencies towards his relationships throughout the show, but especially with Rachel. However, one must remember that he has technically been cheated on and while his first wife is not at fault for discovering her true sexual orientation, it doesn’t make the heartbreak any less real. This doesn’t mean that his insecurities in season three and accusations towards Mark are okay but you can at least understand where he’s coming from. Especially since he turned out to be right about Mark’s intentions. Despite all this, his hooking up with someone hours after the big fight was out of line, technicalities be damned. This topic though is worthy of its own separate piece so I digress.

Friends at heart is a story of, well, friendship and the way it develops as one travels through the confusion of their mid-twenties to their mid-thirties. It’s an exploration of how having a loving group of people to support you can help you develop into a better person yourself (Rachel and Chandler are prime examples). Where else have we seen characters who are genuinely that comfortable around each other and more importantly willing to be around each other? It is extremely rare in real life, that’s for sure.

To look into a previous point further, the character development some of the group go through is better than some dramatic shows where such a thing is at the forefront. Rachel goes from a spoiler brat who was ready to get married just so she would have a safety net to a single mother who singlehandedly built a career for herself in something she loves. Chandler goes from a romantic disaster who can’t communicate properly to initiating a lifelong commitment to a woman he loves despite some challenges. Some characters do get given the short end of the stick but that’s more of a general writing choice.

Overall, whether or not you like Friends or think it’s funny is an entirely personal matter. One can’t deny though that it is a charming heartfelt story of self-discovery, friendship, and love and there are a multitude of reasons why it’s such a classic. After all, few other shows told us life was gonna be this way like this one.


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