Aired from 1994 to 2004,
Friends was considered to be way ahead of its time, and it was lucky to be so.
Although it is a simple story of friends spending time together, it discussed
many topics, that if written and aired today the same way as in 1994, it would
receive massive backlash and criticism. Besides the obvious differences,
“Friends” contains many topics that are viewed as controversial and offensive
today and, thus, wouldn’t be used if written in 2017.
First of all, the cast would
look different. With all the “Black lives matter” and racial discrimination
movements, much more racial diversity has been brought to movie and TV casts.
Considering “Friends” takes place in New York City, the show reflects none of
the diversity at the time. Not only are the main six cast members white actors,
but so is the vast majority of guest stars and background actors as well. If
written in 2017, the cast, as well as background actors, would be much more
If that wasn’t enough to spark
controversy, there are many cultural stereotypes in the show. Scenes such as
Joey’s family, which includes seven violent sisters that cannot be told apart,
his parents who complain about the correct preparation of garlic or his
grandmother who wears a beggar scarf and doesn’t speak a word English, would
never be accepted in today’s society. Whenever there were people of other
ethnicities, the show depicted them in ways that would be unacceptable
nowadays. Thus, if written in 2017, most of these jokes wouldn’t even be
considered to be included.
On the verge of being offensive
are the constant jokes about homosexuality. Scenes such as the laughter of a
person on hearing the word “homo” can be excused as the joke of a childish
adult. However, the interactions and conversations about the relationship
between Carol and Susan are less excusable. For example, the loud scoff at the
sight of their wedding followed up by the sentence “Oh my god, now I have seen
everything” can be interpreted many ways, however, the most obvious being that
a same sex wedding is wrong. Considering the LGBTQ community and gay pride
movements, this would create immense backlash. If written in 2017, rather than
joking about this wedding, it would be made big to encourage same sex marriage.
Some of the more problematic
jokes are those concerning “fat Monica”. The show uses the days where Monica
used to be overweight as a punchline with quotes such as “Some girl ate Monica”.
This would create mountains of complaints if aired in 2017, calling this “fat
shaming” and that “she is beautiful the way she is”. She would rather have
stayed overweight or never have been so.
Another comedic element often
seen in “Friends” is the jesting of a person’s sexuality. Moments such as Joey’s
“feminine” shoulder bag or chandler’s transsexual father are often used as for
punchlines, something which you would never see in today’s TV shows. In 2017, this
situation would look entirely different. Joey wouldn’t be made fun of for his
and the rest might even have one for a while, as well. Chandler’s father would
be much closer to the family than he is in the show, a sign of inclusion of
those who are different. Possibly you would even see other actors living out
their sexuality as guest stars.
Not everything in the show
would change solely because they are problematic if included in 2017. Some
things would change simply because of the difference in time. There are the
obvious elements that would change, such as technology. For example, the
mishaps when using their answering machine wouldn’t happen or you would see
more stories involving phones or social media. You would see different
personalities involved in the show, for example hipsters, or you some situations
wouldn’t even exists anymore, such as the encyclopaedia salesman.
The actors in “Friends” not
only make fun of each other, but also themselves. The show makes many jokes at
the expense of untreated emotional problems
Many, if not most, of the
jokes made in “Friends” are based on commenting on another person’s situation
or even their own. As such, many of those jokes would be looked down upon in 2017,
with a lot of backlash that would be created. Because of this, it would be
unlikely to see those jokes in a 2017 version of “Friends” and because they
make up most of the show and are basically its “essence”, you could say that a
2017 version of “Friends” as it is couldn’t exist.