Friends is widely considered to be one of the best sitcoms of all time. While many still laugh while revisiting the show on Netflix, viewers can't deny that Friends is dated. In fact, it just doesn't hold up. Hold on, hold on, don't scream, "BLASPHEMY!" just yet. When given some thought, you'll realize it's true. While the show's humor still clicks on some levels, many can't deny that there are moments that either make you eyeroll or cringe.
There's no real shame in enjoying the show, but the fashions, the politics, the technology, and other elements put the show in a specific '90s time capsule. Friends is surprisingly homophobic, racially underrepresented, and just doesn't seem to work when viewed with a 21st-century perspective. Let's have a Friends retrospective to see the reasons why Friends may not be as good as you remember.
New York City is one of the most culturally and racially diverse cities in the United States. Why is so little of that represented in Friends? Aside from a brief multi-episode arc with Aisha Tyler, most persons of color are either quick pop-ins or background players.
While not outright hateful, homosexuality is seen as second-class and is used as a gag within Friends. Chandler frequently defends his heterosexuality when the gang or outside parties call him out for doing stereotypically gay behavior such as "being well-dressed." Ross is particularly hurt that his ex-wife is a lesbian and has concerns about his son being partially raised by his ex-wife's wife. While the they did showcase a lesbian wedding at a time when such things were taboo, the show's overall attitude towards homosexuality is typically and justifiably frowned upon in the 21st century.
While it's unfair, the invention of the cell phone has seriously dated Friends. Many plots would be compromised if smart phones were introduced. Many hilarious and dramatic moments on the show were dependent on missing a phone call at home, not checking voice messages on the machine, or responding to a pager. Even Jennifer Aniston thinks cell phones would have killed Friends, although for an entirely different reason (she thinks everyone would just be glued to the phones).
In the climate of the 21st century, gender is seen as something fluid that doesn't and shouldn't adhere to outdated, traditional roles. However, the guys on Friends are pretty hung up on manliness. Ross is concerned when his toddler son enjoys playing with a Barbie rather than a GI Joe. Chandler has trouble having a relationship with his father since his father identifies as female. All of this was played for laughs back then, but it certainly seems outdated and outright mean now.