One of the most popular sitcoms in history, continues to attract viewers nearly 20 years after the series ended, and yet, there are 10 shockingly dark moments that have aged terribly. The show has had a significant cultural impact, from trend-creating moments like Rachel's hairstyle, Joey's "How doin'?" catchphrase, and Chandler's use of sarcasm. has also been acknowledged for helping international students improve their English.
The series is also credited for showing young adults how to navigate life's ups and downs as a friend group, paying the way for hit sitcoms like and . The show is filled with iconic moments that still garner laughs today. However, there are several aspects of
In the 200th episode, "The One With The Male Nanny," Ross and Rachel hired a man named Sandy to take care of Emma during the day. Rachel loved Sandy, while Ross was extremely bothered by Sandy's sensitivity and the idea of a male nanny. Sexist and homophobic jokes are spurred as Ross struggled to accept someone who expressed their emotions and used puppet shows and a flute to entertain his child.
Ross's sexism and homophobia are one reason and it goes all the way back to a central plot in the third season episode, "The One With The Metaphorical Tunnel." During a weekend visit with his son Ben, Ross panicked after seeing the child holding onto a Barbie doll and then attempted to persuade Ben into playing with GI Joe and dinosaur toys. He is confronted and embarrassed by Monica, who revealed that Ross used to dress up as a woman named "Bea" at tea parties
Throughout the series' decade run, best friends and roommates Joey and Chandler often showed their immaturity and displayed their toxicity toward women. In the season 2 episode, "The One With the Breast Milk," Joey and Chandler expressed their disgust when Carol breastfed Ben in front of them. In other episodes, Joey and Chandler have no shame in declaring their sexual conquest of women.
Phoebe, despite her flightiness, had a knack for zinging her friends with clever one-liners. However, several of her remarks were mean-spirited and hurt the ones she loved. In the season six premiere, "The One After Vegas," Phoebe reminded Ross of his failed marriages and ranted about how Ross must love getting divorced. In this episode and others, she would make divorce jokes while also mocking Ross' masculinity.
The season 7 episode, "The One With Rachel's Assistant," introduced the character Tag, whom Rachel hired to assist her at the Ralph Lauren Corporation. Rachel admitted that she hired Tag because he was attractive, even though he lacked office skills. Rachel regularly flirted inappropriately with Tag and bossed him around as if he was her plaything.
"The One With The Baby On The Bus" from season 2 is problematic on multiple levels. Not only did Chandler and Joey accidentally leave Ross' son Ben on a bus, but the reason was also that they were distracted by three beautiful women. Furthermore, the women assumed that Chandler and Joey were a gay couple because they were taking care of a baby.
The fat shaming ofand the series takes the inappropriateness to another level in the season 6 episode, "The One That Could Have Been." The plot revolves around a "what if?" alternative universe where the friends wonder what life would've been like if they had made different choices. The scenario featured Monica, wearing a fat suit, pining over her status as a 30-year-old virgin.
One of the most disturbingly dark moments in the series was when Ross hits on his cousin Cassie in season 7. Smitten by Cassie, Ross misinterpreted his cousin's flirtatious nature as a sign that she wanted to have sex with him. When Ross attempted to kiss Cassie, the horrified cousin stormed out of Ross' apartment, and the episode ended without Ross showing much remorse or apologizing.
The season 7 episode, "The One With Chandler's Dad," is shocking and offensive due to the title alone because Chandler's dad is actually his trans-mom and stage performer, Helen Handbasket. The episode used misgendered pronouns and lofted transphobic jokes at the character, played by Kathleen Turner. Both the creator of and Turner have since admitted their regret over the episode and the harm it has caused the LGBTQIA + community.
Cultural appropriation and racism were on full display in the season 10 episode, "The One Where Joey and Rachel Kiss." Instead of wearing a hat or going to a hair salon, Monica decided to fix her humidity-messed up hair in Barbados by wearing corn rows, a traditional hairstyle of Black women. Even worse, Chandler shows his displeasure with Monica's new look.