Let’s face it - with the Nineties revival beginning to build up steam, it’s only a matter of time before Friends becomes re-evaluated as not just mere trash TV but something deeper, something representative of the culture of the time. And who knows - maybe it was. If the culture of the time was utterly vacuous and so bland and white-washed that having bleached hair was somehow “edgy” and the most rock and roll thing one could do was attend a Hootie And The Blowfish concert. But that wasn’t the 90s I lived through.
Before we go hailing Friends as the voice of a dispossessed generation, let’s take a minute to pause and reflect on how the show represented gay people, and how much of the humor was based on a premise that being gay in and of itself was just so strange and unusual that it’s inherently funny. And that’s not even touching on gender roles as shown in the show - as a friend of mine commented on this clip:
I always thought Friends’ gender policing was outrageous - it seemed like every other episode centred around how hilarious it was that a man was doing things that normal men didn’t do.
Homophobic Friends is a re-edit compilation by Vimeo user WayOutEast, that compiles all the gay-based humor in the show and that runs for over 40 minutes. Bitch Magazine has an excellent feature on this video and its creator, real name Tijana Mamula:
Mamula found that the homophobic and transphobic jokes in Friends tend “to avoid provoking either aversion or anger, and instead prompts the viewer to be swept away by the hilarity of the situations.” Seeing theses moments altogether, one after another, you can see how the audience was presumed to just chuckle and move on. (I couldn’t help but be reminded of the site Microaggressions, which documents the little, caustic everyday incidents that add up to much more).
And wait, there’s more! “I noticed all sorts of other problematic content, some of which I found even more upsetting, like the place of women and foreigners…You could do a whole series of videos, like Misogynistic Friends and Xenophobic Friends.” (See also: this zany montage of the few black characters that have appeared in the show. The overwhelmingly white cast—including the extras, despite the show taking place in New York City—has often been pointed at as one of the show’s shortcomings.)
You can read the rest of that feature here. This is Homophobic Friends:
Thanks to Niall Ferguson.