As a professional overthinker, I have the ability to destroy the things I love in seconds. One of them is “Friends.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about this but what reinforced my feelings was an article by David Hopkins wrote for Medium. It’s called “How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization.”
The article basically talks about Ross and how he was dumbed down by the rest of his friends, which to be fair it’s kind of true. Ross seems like the only one who’s actually aware of what’s freaking happening around the world where everybody else seems to be in their own bubble.
It also talks about sitcoms and how they can make people stupid. Which to a certain point I agree.
Yes, Ross is often ignored in “Friends” and deemed as boring but Ross is an egotistical snob. If you think about it, Ross is one of the more complex characters. There are different facets to him. It’s not only “the playboy” like Joey’s character is. He’s sweet, smart, incredibly insecure, selfish and noble. He does have a character growth but he gets annoying at the end, unfortunately.
Maybe the writers did build it up for him to become annoying or the show’s most antagonized character. Maybe they didn’t. Who knows? And should we really care?
I think it’s fun and important to have these conversations about past shows. We need to know where we are coming from in order to grow. But we shouldn’t get to the point where we are overthinking shows that were just made to give you a laugh.
I could sit here and pinpoint all the things that are probably wrong with “Friends” and jokes that wouldn’t pass the politically correct test today.
Especially, the jokes… If “Friends” was being aired right now it would flop.
But “Friends” came in a time where sitcoms were at its peak. They were lighthearted shows people loved. You could say “Will & Grace” was more nuanced and it offered more value. Especially in dealing with LGBTQ+ topics in an era where it wasn’t as open as it is right now.
I could ruin the show for me. I could start with how vapid and cliché the characters are, and how stupid the jokes can get. But why would I? “Friends” is still a show I love. I think to have the notion of what you are watching and its context it’s enough for you to enjoy the show.
We need light-hearted shows. We don’t need to be watching “The West Wing” and “Cosmos” all the time to fill up our smart quota. Sometimes we need shows that will distract us.
A lot of things have changed since the ’90s. Currently, T.V. shows are more nuanced than ever. People are watching T.V. for comedic relief but at the same time shows are holding a mirror to society, e.g., “Atlanta”, “Mr. Robot” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” to name a few. Not that they didn’t back in the day but now it’s more common.
We should enjoy the shows we like without having to be so self-conscious about it. People can have dualities. Watching “Friends” doesn’t make me inherently stupid just like watching “The West Wing” doesn’t make inherently smart.
It’s like James Bond. I’ve previously spoken about it. I know around 90% of the movies are sexist. I’m extremely aware of it and how objectifying they can be and I still love Bond. I’m able to watch movies and enjoy them. Does that make me less of a feminist? no, because I’m well aware of it. If I weren’t and I accepted James Bond as is… then maybe there’s a problem.
Watching “Friends” doesn’t make you stupid. Not being aware of the show’s faults, might. We should be able to critic the shows we love without ruining them.
Go read the article from Medium. It’s really good. “How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization.” Let me know what you think.