Forgiving the flaws
Although Friends was certainly criticized at the time for its portrayal of a New York City full of white people, it took a little longer for some of the other aspects of the show —like ‘fat Monica’ and transphobic jokes on Chandlers dad —to be considered problematic.
While the show won a GLAAD Media Award for depicting Ross’s ex-wife. Carol, as being in a lesbian couple (sadly, this was a pretty big deal in 1995). Its approach to the LGBTQ+ community, and lack of characters of color, can feel cringeworthy to some fans.
“I don’t think that consistently using Carol as the butt of jokes at Ross’ expense. Poking fun at the friendship between Chandler and Joey. They would go over as well if written in a contemporary show,” says 22-year-old Dana Seech from the US.
Still, Seech, says loves the show for the way. “The characters build a family unit that can resonate with audiences. And“the New York City culture and fashion of the 90s and early 2000s.”
Twenty-one-year-old Sabrina Hutton of Tampa, Florida, says she’s been obsessed with Friends since she first watched it with her grandmother as a child. The show “fell a little short when it came to different races and ethnicities,” Hutton says, noting that “in all 10 seasons there has been one major character who was black.”
Viewers seem able to forgive the show’s more anachronistic tendencies. Perhaps in exchange for its message of the potential of a good friendship. As Michael Schulman writes for the New Yorker, Friends “was pioneering in defining people’s twenties, often aimless and uncertain, as a distinct phase of adulthood, in which platonic friendships can provide a kind of structure lacking in romances or careers.”
Ultimately, it’s the connection between the characters that got viewers hooked then. Particularly in an age dominated by the loneliness of city-living and smartphones. “I think the show gives young people hope that despite their past or current circumstances.
There are people out there that will be able to make our lives a little brighter,” says Justine Teixeira, 19, of South Africa.