In September 2019, Friends celebrated its 25th anniversary. Premiering in 1994, the sitcom still resonates with fans. However, some have noticed that there are several scenes that might be considered problematic today. The episodes haven’t aged well over the years and might now make you cringe.
The One When They Poked Fun At Chandler’s Transgender Parent
In 2019, it would be taboo for anyone to make a joke about someone identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. A television series would receive harsh criticism if it made a joke about a transgender person. That’s why today’s fans cringe every time on Friends when a character jokes about Chandler Bing’s (Matthew Perry) transgender parent, Charles.
Played by Academy Award-nominated cisgender actress Kathleen Turner, Charles is frequently mentioned on the show as a gay, male drag queen with an entertainment show in Las Vegas, referred to as “Viva Las Gaygas.” The character’s gender identity is a long-running punchline on the series. One of the worst jokes is during “The One with Chandler and Monica’s Wedding Pt. 1,” in which Chandler’s mother (Morgan Fairchild) asks Charles, “Don’t you have a little too much penis to be wearing a dress like that?” Cringe.
Turner has since admitted that her character “didn’t age well.” At the time, she was playing the “first woman playing a man playing a woman” on television. It was groundbreaking, but unfortunately, the treatment was in poor taste. Co-creator Marta Kauffman said she would rethink the bad jokes if she could make the episodes today. Unless a reboot happens, Kauffman won’t have a chance to make up for the unfortunate punchlines.
The One When Ross Tried To Kiss His Cousin
Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) has been voted the show’s least favorite character by fans. He’s considered insufferable and inappropriate. For one thing, he dated one of his students. He refused to divorce Rachel after they got married in Las Vegas (while drunk), and then he lied to her and said he got the marriage annulled. What was he thinking? And, of course, he never let anyone forget that he and Rachel “were on a break.”
But nothing compares to when Ross tries to kiss his cousin, Cassie (Denise Richards) in “The One with Ross and Monica’s Cousin.” In the episode, Ross is surprised at how attractive his cousin is as an adult. He loses his senses and tries to kiss her. Incest is never a good thing.
In 2001, the scene was considered funny. No one raised an eyebrow. But decades later, fans finally realize the scene is creepy. Even though marrying cousins was legal in 19 states at the time, it still wasn’t okay for Friends creators to air this scene. No one needs to hear Ross’s internal narration as he wonders if his cousin is attracted to him.
The One When They Fat-shamed Monica
In 2019, fat-shaming is a big “no-no.” People embrace individuals of all shapes and sizes. So, whenever a character makes a joke about Monica Geller’s (Courteney Cox) past, in which she was overweight, it’s in poor taste today. Sure, it was probably funny in the ’90s and early 2000s, but not anymore.
In retrospect, Monica wasn’t that overweight. Yes, she was bigger than the other characters on the show, but she wasn’t as enormous as the friends joked. During one scene, Ross jokes, “I grew up with Monica. If you didn’t eat fast, you didn’t eat.” Really? Was Monica really that obsessive about food that she wouldn’t share food with her own family?
According to Kelsey Miller, author of I’ll Be There for You, the fat-shaming jokes presented Monica as an entirely different person. She said, “Fat Monica isn’t even a person. She’s not Monica, fat. She’s a cartoon character, with a weird, scream-y voice and a totally different personality (if you can call an affinity for mayonnaise and Kit Kats a personality).”
Fans cringe now whenever they watch a re-run of an episode and someone makes a joke about Monica’s days as a “fat person.” Even though Monica was “bigger,” she was still deserving of love and respect.