Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

Friends: 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasn’t All That Bad)

Do the worst aspects of Friends outweigh its best qualities? Here’s why some call it one of the best shows of ever and why others say it’s the worst.

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Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

For the longest time, Friends was held aloft as a sitcom benchmark, having altered the notions of the genre and creating a lasting legacy for television itself. To some degree, this is inarguable, because the series did manage to maintain its meteoric quality for almost an entire decade (a very rare accomplishment).

On the other hand, for a program with the pervasive influence that Friends wielded, it exhibited a shocking level of callousness, both towards its own characters and to various forms of underprivilege that exist in the world. Apologists claim that it was a product of its time, and must be treated as such — rather than expecting it to conform to the present worldview.

Updated on June 28th, 2021 by Kristen Palamara: Although Friends still remains a popular show for a lot of fans, other people believe that Friends was actually a terrible show. It’s worth re-looking at the series with more of a critical eye to try to figure out why some might think that Friends was such a bad show, but also highlighting why Friends is considered a good show as well. Though Friends might be considered progressive for the 1990s, it still tried to make some questionable things comedic from jealousy and possessiveness in relationships to a damning lack of diversity.

10 Worst: Not all of the main characters actually progress

Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

Most of the best shows see their main characters grow and develop throughout the series, but the friends arguably regress and begin to rely on more laughs based on stereotypes. While some of the friends in the main group do change throughout the series, specifically Chandler and Monica who grow up, marry, and move on to have a family, and Phoebe who marries soulmate Mike, the rest of the friends regress.

Ross and Rachel end up together, which had been an on-and-off relationship for multiple seasons. Both Ross and Rachel never fully moved on from the relationship, always getting pulled back in, which made it difficult for them to develop and progress as individual characters. And Joey in particular seemed to regress as he became even less intelligent as the series went on and the show Joey’s personality as a crutch for laughs.

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9 Not That Bad: The Best (Substitute) ESL Course

Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

The significance of Friends lies not among its American viewers but rather shows in the vast number of fans it has produced in several other countries. More than just being a sitcom, it has doubled as an English language learning program for people whose native tongue is not English.

Studies have proven that a decent minority of college students refer to Friends as the main source of learning the language. As The Guardian writes, many famous figures have recognized Friends as a tool that helped them learn the English language.

8 Worst: Jealous And Possessive Relationships

Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

Fans either love or hate Ross and Rachel’s relationship, but it can’t be denied that Ross had a jealous and possessive streak that the show played off as comedic or romantic. Specifically, Ross was extremely jealous of Rachel’s co-worker Mark even though he was just a co-worker that Rachel admired for his work ethic.

More generally, Ross constantly didn’t understand why Rachel was putting so much time and effort into her new career in the fashion industry and it always seemed like he was trying to hold her back. He wanted Rachel to focus on him instead of her career and it caused a rift in their relationship, but they eventually got over it and Rachel seemingly gave up pursuing a career in Paris for him, which the series portrayed as romantic.

7 Not That Bad: A Comfort Show

Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

Although there may be problematic issues regarding Friends that definitely should be discussed, it’s still true that it’s a comfort show for a lot of people. Fans find comfort in series that are familiar and they don’t have to necessarily pay attention to while they’re watching. Friends can be played in the background because fans most likely know what’s going to happen in every episode so it’s a fun carefree rewatch for those who don’t have space in their leisure time to start a new show.

Fans who grew up watching Friends find it nostalgic to rewatch the series as a kind of time capsule and that is an attraction that can’t be dismissed out of hand.

6 Worst: Toxic Masculinity

Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

Ross, for one, has some serious issues with his own masculinity, emerging from the rigid definitions he was raised with. But, instead of dealing with it, he takes it out on people, like Emma’s male nanny. Ross is unable to see how a man could perform a job that he antiquatedly deems to be feminine and makes gross assumptions.

The friends, in general, taunt any man in their group who doesn’t conform to traditional expectations, like ridiculing Joey for trying to pull off a “man-bag”, or doing a lipstick for men commercial in Japan. It wasn’t the only trope best forgotten in ’90s sitcoms and it wasn’t the only ’90s sitcom to be guilty of this but, especially considering the metropolitan setting, it was totally unnecessary for the characters even if the show made fun of the ignorance.

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5 Not That Bad: Set The Stage For The Hangout Sitcom

Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

Friends had an enormous impact on how audiences view comedy, and they did so by defining a genre known as the “hangout sitcom”, which is centered around a bunch of companions just chilling at their local café/bar/wherever.

For whatever reason, this mode of sitcom seemed to work really well, resulting in a number of well-known series such as The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Happy Endings and New Girl. However, many viewers found that these shows were sorely lacking in narrative depth because of their struggle to maintain the “casual vibe.”

4 Worst: They Don’t Even Act Like Friends

Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

The show spends a lot of time on the six pals insulting each other, even to the point where it ceases to feel relatable. The issue main, however, is the shaming that they would all often indulge in for laughs.

For instance, instead of being supportive, the other four just embarrass Ross and Joey for their nap together. Even more unsettling is how cruel they are to Ross after his marriage ends and seemingly also for the opportunity for homophobic humor that many ’90s sitcoms would have considered archaic.

3 Not That Bad: One Of The Most Popular Comedy Series Ever

Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

Friends’ popularity is undeniable: several rankings place it as the best sitcom of the ’90s, surpassing even the likes of Seinfeld. Friends had great stars throughout and the series finale is the fourth most-watched of all time, with almost 66 million viewers tuning in for the conclusion of the decade-long saga.

In fact, a Hollywood Reporter survey involving hundreds of industry personalities ended with Friends being chosen as their number one choice. In 2015, USA Today reported that the syndication of the show was netting Warner Bros. at least a billion dollars each year.

2 Worst: Its Overall Lack Of Diversity

Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

Very few non-white actors were given important roles within Friends, with notable exceptions like Aisha Tyler (Ross’ paleontologist girlfriend, Dr. Charlie Wheeler).

Discounting the diversity of the show’s real-life location, it still doesn’t make sense to have an almost all-white cast for a program that prided itself on being accessible. It’s a good thing, then, that sitcoms are taking an entirely different trajectory these days.

1 Not That Bad: A Cultural Phenomenon

Friends 5 Reasons Why It Was The Worst (& 5 Why It Wasnt All That Bad)

The legacy of Friends echoed loudly around the world and continues to do so even today. Several ideas and concepts from the show entered popular culture, for instance, Joey’s familiar catchphrase “How you doin’?” as well as the role Friends had in reshaping informal language and slang.

Another point of note is The Rachel, Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyle in the initial seasons, which ended up becoming one of the most common salon requests in history.

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