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Jennifer Aniston sparks heated debate about whether 'Friends' was problematic
2023/06/26

Social media users are weighing in with their thoughts on the famed sitcom "Friends," after Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel Green on the show, said she believes many younger people are now finding some of the episodes problematic. 

"There's a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of 'Friends' and find them offensive," Aniston told the Associated Foreign Press (via Yahoo!), while promoting her latest movie, Netflix's "Murder Mystery 2."

"There were things that were never intentional and others, well, we should have thought it through," Aniston continued. "But I don't think there was a sensitivity like there is now.

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Aniston's comments have gone viral on Twitter, prompting users to share their thoughts on whether they think show is outdated or offensive. 

One of the more prominent criticisms of the show is the lack of racial diversity in casting, something that it has come under fire for in previous years. Many users compared "Friends" to another 90s sitcom which is thought to have inspired the show, called "Living Single," which followed a group of Black friends living in New York City, with many saying "Friends" was a less funny and less diverse version of that show. 

Others also criticized the show's attitude towards LGBTQ+ characters — while the main six were portrayed as straight, it did feature prominent same-sex couple, Carol and Susan, played by Jane Sibbett and Jessica Hecht.

However, users pointed out they were often treated as a "punchline" for comedic effect in earlier seasons of the show, although the characters were given a more dignified storyline in later seasons. 

Some Twitter users said they took issue with another comment Aniston made in her interview: that comedy was previously allowed to "joke about a bigot and have a laugh." She added, "That was hysterical. And it was about educating people on how ridiculous people were, and now we're not allowed to do that."

Several users said they do not think "Friends" ridiculed bigots, and that some of the cast's male characters, in particular, were scripted to have problematic and sexist views.

@paperpeper Part 2? #friendstvshow #sexism #feminism #theman ♬ original sound - Sol ✨

Prior to Aniston's comments going viral, the male characters on "Friends" had been a topic of discussion among TikTok users watching the show for the first time on Netflix. 

Many people have compiled clips of the men on the show making remarks that they consider to be sexist and inappropriate today, such as Chandler, played by Matthew Perry, saying there is something wrong with a woman who is seen eating alone, or Ross, played by David Schwimmer, strongly opposing the idea of getting a male nanny, since he views it as a job more suited to a woman.

 

Schwimmer's character, who is Rachel's primary love interest in the show, has been on the receiving end of particularly intense backlash, with some people saying that if he were a real man living in today's world he would be seen as "emotionally manipulative" and "problematic" because of the way his character treated Aniston's during their on-screen relationship. 

@iamnobody716 Reply to @eylultrk01 #friends #friendstvshow #friendsedit #friendsedits #rossgeller #rachelgreen #monicageller #chandlerbing #joeytribbiani #phoebebuffay ♬ Happier Than Ever - Edit - Billie Eilish

"I can fully see Ross hurting one of the women in his life and not feeling remorse," one TikToker said in a video where she shared her opinions about the character.

 

That being said, "Friends" is also hugely popular on TikTok. The hashtag #FriendsTVShow has 4.6 billion views on the app, with many videos featuring fan edits of beloved scenes and behind-the-scenes moments from the show.

A number of users also challenged Aniston's perspective saying they either belong to Gen Z orknow Gen Z viewers and are aware that lots of people their age love the show. Some said they do not find the show particularly offensive but do not think it's funny either, while others said they believe the show, which aired from 1994 to 2004 should be viewed in the context of its time.

"I feel like if you watch a show that was recorded 20-30 years ago, you're gonna have to expect that some of the topics are handled differently than today, it was a different time & they didn't really know what would be offensive in the future," one user tweeted. 

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