Viewers of Friends are treated to what is depicted as the normal, slice of life reality of six friends trying to make it in the Big Apple. Each of the Friends characters had their hardships, sure, but in reality, the show has tarnished a generation because Friends sets unrealistic expectations for living in a big city, picking a career, dating, and being alive in general.
Friends fails viewers not only for the blatantly obvious reasons - like the arsenal of fat jokes aimed at Monica or Chandler's rampant homophobic quips - but for other, deep-rooted, sinister reasons as well. Friends ruined a generation by perpetuating Ross and Rachel's toxic dating patterns, normalizing Joey's predatory behaviors, and painting New York City from the group's singular, white, heterosexual, financially privileged vantage point.
In the land of Friends, if you don’t like your job, you simply quit. It's that simple!
Rachel doesn't feel fulfilled working at Central Perk, despite the fact that it is a steady job and she is completely unqualified to do anything else. But hey, qualifications, bills, healthcare, and security be damned! Rachel quits her job to pursue her dream of working in the fashion industry.
Likewise, Chandler quits his job - admittedly in a slightly more organized fashion - to find his passion in life, which happens to be advertising. In both cases, the characters quit stable jobs in order to find more fulfilling jobs. While a case can be made for this being a positive example, it’s also idealistic and extremely privileged. Rachel and Chandler are both able to make such a leap because they aren’t supporting anyone else, paying back student loans, or suffering from an illness which would necessitate healthcare insurance.
This attitude toward work is reflected in Millennials, as reports state that two out of three Millennials will leave their job by 2020.
Because Friends was filmed on a soundstage, it doesn’t necessarily feel like New York City. Sure, there are exterior shots of NYC, but you rarely see the main characters walking in streets crowded with strangers. Instead, the NYC of Friends is mainly indoors, comfortable, and safe. This is not actually the case with living in NYC, as there is crime and filth. Likewise, how are the never any mice or cockroaches in their apartments? Yes, Phoebe catches a mouse once, but other than that there is no evidence of these common NYC apartment issues.
The New York City presented in Friends is idealistic and totally unreal. A generation of 20-somethings coming to New York City for the Friends experience were met with mice, trash, and crime. That's the real New York.
One can only assume that Friends had every intention of being a sexually progressive show. After all, the show begins with Carol leaving Ross for her lesbian partner, and it eventually features her marriage to her partner, Susan. However, the show also fell to major homophobic stereotypes.
For example, in Season 1, Ross says, “This was Carol’s favorite beer. She always drank it out of the can. I should’ve known.” Y’know, because lesbians are always butch beer-drinkers. There’s a plot in which Joey learns to dance for a role and the other characters make fun of him by implying dancing will turn him gay. Throughout the series, Chandler’s gay, drag queen father is often a source of comedy.
While Friends may have had the intentions the conversation about sexuality forward, its habit of making anything other than heterosexuality a joke was in poor taste.
If you remember Joey as the dumb-but-lovable goofball of the group, think again. Joey Tribbiani is nothing short of a sexist creep with predatory behaviors. Joey’s womanizing, sexist, and misogynist comments are no longer seen as endearing or laughable traits. There are countless occasions in which Joey treats women poorly, sexualizes strangers and friends alike, and talks about thongs ad nauseam. Seriously, Joey is obsessed with thongs. Joey also plays into gender stereotypes, often asking Monica to grab him a beer or make him food. Younger viewers who have been introduced to the show via Netflix have expressed their disdain for the show, citing Tribbiani's character often.