10 Reasons Why I Would Never Let My Kids Watch 'Friends'
Friends is one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. For 80s and 90s kids, Friends represented a way of life that was perfect, because while the characters' lives were full of imperfections, everything always worked out in the end.
The show got us through some tough times, when it hadn't been our day, our week, or our year. In some ways, the show was our bible, and our sense of humour, as well as the way we spoke and behaved with our own friends, was based on it.
Now, this is where things get problematic. While the so-called 'cool' kids, who conformed to the set notions of what personality traits are 'acceptable' and 'desirable' as drilled into us by Friends , sailed through their teens with little or no friction from society, the ones who were different were the perennial outcasts and weirdos.
If I ever choose to have kids, I wouldn't let them watch Friends in their impressionable teens, and it is because of the disturbing, regressive, and sexist things that the show teaches.
The goal of life – marriage.
Over 10 seasons, Friends showed us that the ultimate goal of life was to get married. Almost all the characters, including the kooky, unconventional Phoebe, believe this. Ross is willing to sacrifice the life he built for himself when Emily, a woman he has known for four weeks, puts such conditions in front of him, only because he doesn't want to be divorced again. Chandler is often mocked because he's seen as the one who'd be the last of the group to get married, because that makes him such a loser, doesn't it?
Women, especially, are desperate to get married. All of them.
Except Ross, the other two guys are never shown to be too keen on getting married, but the three women are all fascinated by the the idea of wedding dresses, big fancy weddings, and their 'big day.' Monica's “day is here at last” on her wedding day, because that's totally what women are born to do, aren't they? Phoebe, who has a completely different belief system, also decides that marriage is so important to her that she cannot be with Mike, the love of her life, unless he's willing to change his mind about marriage.
They're not just desperate to get married, but for men to love them in general.
Monica spends two seasons whining about how she cannot seem to find a boyfriend because of her personality. Rachel goes to ridiculous lengths to woo Joshua, her recently divorced customer. Phoebe makes Joey masquerade as a doctor to get information about a guy she thinks is cute. Somehow, the guys hardly ever seem to care this much about getting girlfriends, or do creepy, stalker-y things to find or impress women.
Smart and funny repels women, but lying to them to get them in bed is attractive.
Joey was a proto-Barney, who engages in a lot of shenanigans to get laid. He leads women on, sleeps with them, and never calls them again. Yet somehow, he's constantly painted as the most attractive of the three guys, even though Ross is extremely smart and caring, while Chandler is hilarious.
Sex is a class marker.
Friends taught us that having sex is compulsory, and therefore cool. If you don't have it, you're a loser. Sex should be life's second most important goal (marriage being the first).
You're not even allowed one mistake.
If you say or do something stupid, you will not be allowed to forget it. Ever.
You can say the most vicious things about your friends.
The amount the friends ripped on Chandler clearly took it beyond good-natured ribbing. When Monica says “I’m just going to label it ‘what were you thinking?'” about one of Rachel’s boxes, the latter’s horrifyingly vicious response, “I was just going to walk across the hall and write that on Chandler,” shows us that it's totally cool to treat your friends like subhuman filth.
It's totally acceptable to get hung up on ridiculous technicalities.
“WE WERE ON A BREAK” still echoes in my ears, and I cannot get over the ridiculousness of the whole argument. Feelings were hurt because Ross slept with someone three hours after he thought Rachel had broken up with him. It's the feelings that matter, not some stupid technicality.
A bad childhood is something to be frowned upon.
Phoebe had a very tough time growing up, but her friends, instead of being sympathetic, always get extremely uncomfortable and judgemental when she recounts some of her experiences. It is something to be embarrassed of, because she totally chose to have it that way, didn't she?
Don't question rules set by society.
You have to get married, but divorces are not cool. Don't be yourself if who you are is 'weird.' Don't talk to women about science. Don't make too many jokes. Don't tell men you're looking for a serious relationship. Don't tell them that you're looking for a fling. Basically, keep your head down and do things the way they've always been done. Don't use your head too much.
And this is why, no matter how much I loved Friends , I would really not pass on the mentality of its characters and world down to the next generation. Let them watch something a little more progressive, a little more liberating. It is the golden age of television, after all. I'm sure I'll find something.