“Friends” is kind of a puzzle to me. I used to be a huge fan back in the day when it was still on the air. Now that I’m not as much of an idiot as I was when I was 16, my appreciation of the show has changed. Suddenly I’ve been able to notice how poor the acting is, how mechanical and artificial most of the jokes and plotlines are (remember Joey accidentally proposing to Rachel? Lol writing), etc.
What’s weird is that I just can’t really say that it sucks, because I enjoy it too much. “Friends” is on
’s WB channel on repeat all the goddamn time, and if I find it’s on,
I just can’t bring myself to watch anything else. So yeah, despite the fact that I
really do notice how terrible it can sometimes be, I watch “Friends” all the
time—more so now than I did before when I was an actual fan. A lot of the jokes
make me laugh no matter how many times I see the episodes, and that’s many. Mexico
But no matter how much I laugh, there are some things that bother me endlessly, and it mainly pertains to the cast of characters. It’s amazing how terribly written the cast of “Friends” is. These guys are not only awful people, they are sort of awful friends with each other. I think this is a pretty funny discrepancy, considering the main idea of the fucking show is to give us the life of a cool group of totally white people being fun with each other.
Watching the show and thinking that my generation grew up watching it, the great mystery of why today’s youth is hat-on-knee retarded when it comes to social situations is resolved. These six dickheads only taught us how to be dickheads and glamorized being a dickhead to your friends, family, the opposite sex and just about everyone. Worse still, this stupid show is to blame for making people think that bullying is okay as long as it’s to your friends—it’s a bonding experience!
Your friend hates her degrading job that forces her to dress up in a humiliating costume and dance every time a costumer plays a particular song? What would a real friend do? Why, go visit her and make her dance like a monkey all night, because that’s what cool people do when a friend needs comfort and space.
You know someone who really likes and admires your group of friends? Well, don’t ever let her in and avoid the hell out of her, because she has an annoying voice. In fact, make fun of her every chance you get, just do it behind her back and with the other friends she admires. Again, this would be uncool to do to someone, but she has an annoying voice!
Yeah, I enjoy watching this show because it makes me laugh, but I fucking hate what it represents and what it does to society. Let me break down the cast of the main characters to illustrate how they work on paper.
What “Friends” wants you to think: Joey is a ladies man who knows every trick in the sexual book. He can and will hit on anything with breasts, and then move on to his next conquest. Though not the brightest bulb in the house, Joey has a very big heart and will do anything for his friends.
What Joey really is: the single most one-dimensional main character in a medium to long-running series ever. Like every sitcom except “How I Met Your Mother”, “Friends” was good at avoiding character growth like its poison, but it’s unbelievable how Joey stayed the exact same person from season 1 to season 10. Not only is he a shameless Italian-American stereotype, this guy is also a misogynistic prick. What sucks is that he has seven sisters (because stereotypes are fun) and three very close female friends, none of whom ever call him out for being a giant fucking douchebag. In fact, that shit is celebrated. I mean, sure, Barney Stinson also glamorizes misogyny but at least he is called out on being a dickhead (and Barney is an actual fully-formed character who grows; also hilarious). Joey is king of douchebags and women in the show and in reality eat that shit up.
Just how flat is this guy? What do we even know about him? Asinine as though some are, all the other cast has had some plotlines about their past, childhood, etc. Joey has absolutely nothing in the entire show. I can’t believe a character this cardboard made it through ten seasons and stayed cardboard—it’s almost commendable.
And they thought he’d be good as a protagonist outside an ensemble. Adorbs.
Joey’s Best: Uh . . . I’m not sure. I’ll come back to this one.
Joey’s Worst: His painfully forced love story with Rachel. That schmaltzy “Cujo” scene was and still is painful to watch.
What “Friends” wants you to think:
is the resident goofball. He’s socially awkward and fills the gaps
of this gracelessness with jokes no one appreciates but him. However, for all this
awkwardness, he is intelligent and noble. Chandler
really is: Pretty much
the only actual character in the
entire cast of “Friends”. He is the one who is closest to having dimension, and
really the only one who saw growth in the show’s run, going from a totally
clueless boob to a responsible father and husband. He is also played by the
only actor in the cast who really has a grasp on comedic timing and happens to
have by far the best lines. Yeah, it took about three seasons for the writers
to turn him into more than the goofball with hit-or-miss sarcasm, but Matthew
Perry made it work. Chandler
There isn’t much wrong about
. He’s also
the only character in “Friends” with an interesting childhood that is
consistent with the character (unlike Phoebe). He has the best dynamics with
the entire cast (well, except Rachel with whom he rarely had any plotlines) and
is part of my single favorite scene in the show. There seemed to be a point
somewhere in season 4 when the writers actually realized the potential he had
as a character, and exploited it by giving him some of the show’s only potent
dramatic moments. He’s the heart in an otherwise heartless show. I love the
scene when he convinces Monica to tell Erica the truth about the adoption
agency’s “priest and doctor” mistake, and then Erica to let them adopt her kid
anyway. Motherfucker’s got the heart of a lion. Chandler
What “Friends” wants you to think: Ross is the intellectual and scholar of the group, a protagonist of sorts whose love story with Rachel is the heart of the series.
What Ross really is: an interesting choice that was ultimately ruined. In a cast of children, it was very much appreciated that they added a mature, down-to-earth character from the get go.
Ross, however, was almost ruined by a couple of things. First, he represents everything that sucks about sitcoms: glorifying stupidity and shunning intellect. This is something every sitcom ever, even “How I Met Your Mother” is guilty of. Why do they insist on making it cool to hate learning? Why does every single character try to humiliate Ross every time he acts intelligent or mature? He wants to use lottery money in intelligent ways? Make fun of him. He wants to share knowledge? Make fun of him.
I will always hate sitcoms for spreading this backwards mentality. I have a lot to say about just how much TV affects our behavior even if we don’t admit it, but that will be for another post. For now, again: fuck “Friends” and sitcoms for making intelligence a bad thing. Fuck your insecurities; learning is all right.
Another thing that ruined Ross is that
David Schwimmer is the worst comedic actor of the bunch (Edit: this isn't true; Matt LeBlanc is the weakest; I just saw the "leather pants" scene and the way Ross cries is fucking hysterical). He had the artificial
“90’s” acting going for him (for reference, look in episode 03X10, how he
delivers the line “Shielding your face
and shrieking like a girl...is not a backhand.” and how he just recycles
that outdated delivery for the rest of the show), but the instant the jokes
become less about slapstick dialogue and more about performance, he lost it. It
also really irks me how awkward he looks when he’s on-screen but not delivering
any dialogue; he doesn’t know where to look. Don’t get me started with his
extreme overacting in the 9th and 10th seasons.
Still, at least Ross is a good guy, unlike half the rest of the cast. I still like him. His relationship with Monica might be the best one in the cast—it’s complex, realistic and other than having him apparently give her her first kiss, not creepy. I also have to give to him that he pulled off some pretty great dramatic acting in the scene when he breaks up with Rachel. That whole bit was powerful and realistic. And remember the videotape when he gets ready to take Rachel to prom, but then is blown off? Ouch. Great job. Great acting.
Ross’ Best: other than the scene with
mentioned above, Ross has some great dialogue and is part of some of the
funniest scenes. “As a romancer of the elderly!” and “Unagi” to name a few. Chandler
Ross’ Worst: His annoying goddamn extreme overacting in the last two seasons. “I’m fiiiine!” rustles my every jimmy. Also Marcel. Good thing they got rid of that stupid and shallow device, and later made fun of it.
What “Friends” wants you to think: Rachel is a spoiled brat who grows to be an independent woman. She’s beautiful, classy and has a fantastic sense of style.
What Rachel really is: the second biggest bitch on the planet. I hate Rachel so much. If the show was anything close to realistic, she wouldn’t have any friends and would die alone in a crackhouse. What’s worse, is that she is responsible for spreading another really fucked up mentality about what’s cool and not cool in society. Just thinking about that scene when she really wants to bone Ross, but Ross decides that he shouldn’t take advantage of her because she’s too vulnerable after her father’s heart attack boils my fucking piss.
Who the fuck allowed that script to be shot? Who thought “Hey, wouldn’t it be great to have Rachel actively humiliate Ross for not sexually taking advantage of her? We’ll have her call him gay! We’ll even suggest that taking advantage of emotionally vulnerable women is ‘hot’.” What’s worse is that they also did this with Rachel’s sister Jill, whom Ross also chooses not to take advantage of, resulting in her calling him gay. What misogynistic prick is writing the Green sisters and why are women everywhere seeing them as role models?
Oh right—they’re hot and fashionable.
Seriously, this bitch can go to hell. I don’t even want to get started on her trying to stop Ross’ wedding with Emily on a whim. Dr. House was right—she is a terrible person and doesn’t deserve happiness. There is only one bitch worse than this one, and we’ll talk about her later.
On the positive side, I do like Jennifer Aniston, because she manages to make a fundamentally shitty character likeable at times. She also saw some growth, even if only in the first season when she emancipated from daddy’s money. Too bad it stopped there and stalled for several seasons until she became a mother, which was some very well handled character growth.
Rachel’s Best: “I had a traumatic swing incident when I was little.” Sure, that scene was funny because of Ross’ dialogue (“I wonder who will play you in the movie.”) but it kills me.
Rachel’s Worst: There’s a lot, but read above. Whoever wrote that episode is a dick.
What “Friends” wants you to think: Ross’ younger sister is an extremely talented chef and Rachel’s childhood friend who, having grown up overweight, is new to being popular with the opposite sex. She is feisty and lots of fun, and a moral compass of sorts for the group.
What Monica really is: the second best character after
. Like her
husband, her childhood experiences and traumas shaped who she became in a
consistent and realistic way. She’s great because she has a very well defined
personality that’s also more complex than the rest of the cast’s. Sure, she
didn’t really change much throughout the series, but she’s the only one that
started out as a solid character. Chandler
My only problem that although I love Courtney Cox everywhere I see her and she only got hotter with every season (until she recently-ish had some weird surgery that ruined her face for me), she can sometimes slip her comedic performance, just like Schwimmer though far less often. She has some recurring lines like “I know!” that she kinda lost a handle on, and can sound awkward.
Again, her relationship with Ross is great, and I really like how they handled “fat Monica”. In a show that’s shallow and apparently hates women, it’s pretty cool to see them handle an overweight character with a lot of care. Yeah, they make some crude jokes about it, but in general they don’t treat being overweight as some sort of horrible deformity like a lot of other shows and movies do. The “parallel universe” episode when she’s still fat and hooks up with
was pretty amazing. Chandler
I thought I’d have more negative stuff to say about Monica but apparently she’s pretty great. Good to see there’s at least one female character in the cast who isn’t a piece of shit. Hell, she's the only one who walked away unscathed from the whole "dance at the diner" fiasco.
Monica’s best: I love it when she spazes out with Ross. “The routine” is classic. By herself, I loved the bit when Phoebe asks “What is more important, friends or money?” and Monica impulsively yells “Money!”
Monica’s worst: Nothing. Monica is always amazing. Though that whole bit when she wanted to lie to Erica to get her baby was weird and out of character; I blame the writers.
What “Friends” wants you to think: Phoebe is a free spirit who overcame a terrible childhood and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She is unpredictable, selfless, delightfully weird and has a very strong set of values.
What Phoebe really is: the worst character in the cast. Other than the honest and likeable aura Lisa
Wilcox Kudrow (Edit: what an odd slip) puts to the performance,
there is nothing good about Phoebe once you get to the bottom of things. She
has nothing going for her, and is by far the worst written character in the
show. It just irks me how they keep making a whole spiel about her horrible
childhood—when she lived in the streets, mugged people for sustenance, endured
her mother’s suicide, lost track of her family including a twin sister—only to
have her be an absolutely perfect functional adult. I’m sorry but that
inconsistency can only fly in grade z television. They never even make a point
about her overcoming her childhood, it’s kind of a running joke.
Just like Rachel, she’s a selfish bitch, and unlike Rachel, Phoebe doesn’t have many redeeming qualities. Phoebe’s “thing” is being random. She will do or say things that make no sense and that makes her an original and free-thinking sweetheart. Except, well, for one that is a terrible trait to base a character on, because a person’s “random” phase happens when you’re 15, not 27. Writers seemed to catch up on that and got rid of the whole random thing about three or four seasons in. Then she was just the reformed hippie with some really weird plotlines. The only thing consistent about Phoebe is that she hates Chandler for some reason, and that's funny for some reason.
What really sucks about Phoebe is that the one thing she had going for her, her unbreakable values, are all bullshit. Every time she makes a stand for something, be it hating Pottery Barn, disowning her former best friend, hating big massage companies, wanting to give her wedding money to charity, being faithful to her boyfriend, or anything she puts her foot down for, she ends up taking it back in the end. She has no real values at all, which strip her character to just a one-dimensional bitch. The one exception was breaking up with Mike for not wanting to get married, but much like the bird-shooting cop she dated, it seemed more a device to get rid of a character, if only temporarily.
There’s something I do like about Phoebe: she’s a wild card as far as her sanity and intelligence goes. You never quite know if she’s an idiot or just very smart and thinks everyone else is an idiot. You never quite know if she’s out of her rocker, or completely sane. This dynamic is what makes her fun and the only reason she’s tolerable as a member of the main cast. To be fair, she did have some sparks of heart from time to time, and that made her more likeable.
However, I wanted to strangle her with her own intestines during that scene when she introduces Monica to whom Phoebe believes is Monica’s soulmate even when she’s with
. This whole “puppeteer” thing sucks because there are so many douchebags without a social identity who will try to emulate that in real life. A character like
Phoebe is only acceptable in TV; if you’re anything like her in real life, you
can go eat shit. Chandler
Phoebe’s best: her having trouble giving away her brother’s babies. That was heart-wrenching. I also always laugh at the “Lying about
Phoebe’s worst: Hard to say. I really did wanted to kill her with the “soulmate” thing.
Whoo. Well. This was all to illustrate my perspective: “Friends” only works because the cast has such great chemistry. If this wasn’t the case, the show would crash and burn immediately; the cast of characters is, on paper, dysfunctional and one dimensional for the most part. Which is a nice way of saying it sucks ass. And not only does it suck, it's just a terrible role model for people to have.
Of course I can’t say I hate “Friends”. Like I said, I watch it all the time, and it makes me laugh often. I just think this inconsistency is interesting—how can a show be so good and so bad at the same time? It’s interesting.