03/11/20 – Friends and it’s Critics (arseholes)

Well, two of my friends, Hugh and Thomas made blogs yesterday to partake in the challenge for November. Reading both of their posts was enjoyable though, you can see little parts of their personalities dotted throughout their writing, hopefully mine is the same. I want to write in a way that a friend will read it in my voice eventually. Whilst reading their blogs I was feeling pretty chuffed if I’m honest. It suddenly felt like a shared moment or something close to that anyway it gave me a big smile and an injection of motivation. Boy, do I not love it when a plan comes together?

Thought that today I’d write about Friends as in the television show. I’m not sure what kind of a theme it’s going to take so I’ll just start by saying that I really love Friends, me and my girlfriend seem to be watching it on a constant loop since it’s been on Netflix. But Friends didn’t just get good when it went on Netflix, it’s always been good and to anyone who says it’s shit and you hate laughing tracks etc. I just disagree with you.

Undeniably since it has been on Netflix its’ popularity has boomed but along with that boom has come criticism…criticism from the darkest, dampest, ugliest corners of the far-left. I’m here to face up to that criticism and acknowledge some other worthy criticisms today. Now, the criticisms usually fall into one of two very distinct categories. The first category can be described as hate mail. It is generally just people who are grumpy and too highbrow for a simple sitcom such as Friends or people who have never even watched it from the start. These people are just haters in my eyes to be honest and I think if you interview those people that’ll be evident when you ask them to elaborate on why they hate Friends. It’s something usually along the lines of ‘It’s just not funny’ or ‘It’s just shit’. Well then there you go, every single one of 236 Friends episodes is just shit and not funny? Or is it maybe the fact that you watched one episode with no context and felt left out? Hm, maybe. 

The second category is the work of the terrorist cells disguising themselves as 23 year old “social activists” who hate successful people who like things that make them happy. Just to be clear, the people who have written articles or made any posts of this nature are truly a scourge on humanity. They’re the wart on humanity’s finger that you see right as they tap their card at the end of a perfect date, small and temporary but enough to turn you off. The criticisms are those of a politically correct nature for example, one of many criticisms is Ross’s degrading treatment of Rachel with regards to her success, her career and the fact that he is controlling and had such an issue with a male nanny. Whilst I can agree that Ross can speak derogatorily towards Rachel at times throughout the series this criticism completely negates all of the grief that Ross gets. To seriously take issue with Ross’s treatment of Rachel you have to completely ignore and block out so much external context that it literally shouldn’t even qualify to be written about although lucky for you it has qualified. For example, Ross is never portrayed as the man, he’s portrayed as a nerdy sissy who likes to think he’s much better than he is. The entire cast at some point has made a comment about the fact that Ross’s doctorate isn’t real, isn’t that undermining his success? When Rachel jokes that Ross should go and play with his dinosaurs is that not belittling of his career? Which it’s worth noting is actually miles ahead of Rachel’s especially in the first half of the show. Now, I’m not saying that anybody should belittle anybody else’s career and I’m not denying Ross acting like an arsehole. But notice that everytime Ross acts like an arsehole he is never ever portrayed as the good guy, he’s portrayed as unreasonable and pernickety. Further criticism has come at the expense of the writer’s portrayal of gender roles too. The example given is Monica’s obsession with cleaning and Chandler’s aversion to it but again you ignore context and intent. Nobody thinks that being obsessed with cleaning is a bad trait. The only people who will say that are people who are raging that they aren’t obsessed. So whilst Monica does fulfill a stereotypical gender role in her passion for cleaning her passion is seen as desirable hence the intent. Also, Monica is always portrayed as the more competent in that marriage and interestingly Chandler had probably been the most competent character up until they got married – stable, successful career etc.

This is very much a conclusion, Friends is good, if you disagree then fair enough but you’re wrong. It is one of the most successful television shows ever, it is definitely the most successful sitcom ever and it is representative of multiple generations’ favourite type of TV, light with some drama and heavy character development. Why do we love Friends so? The characters are all incredibly human and all suffer multiple shortcomings and failures throughout the series. None of the characters are wholesome and complete, they all have very pronounced flaws and faults. So in truth we love Friends for the same reason that we love Ed Sheeran, they’re imperfect. Nobody expected a chubby ginger guy to be the most successful artist of the 21st Century but because he loves a drink, he acknowledges his flaws in his lyrics and dresses normally, this all allows him and the writers of Friends to tap into the underdog in us, the part of us that makes us really get behind somebody. This is the thing about Friends, it’s a series of double edged swords – Phoebe is strong and streetwise but is also a complete hippy, Joey is a womaniser who has lots of sex but he’s portrayed as being stupid and a pig. This is paramount in connecting to the audience.

To finish I will say this with regards to Friends, anybody can love it, even if you’re the owner of a genius-level IQ and your parents were killed by Warner Bros. Equally though, anybody can hate Friends, even somebody with the very lowest IQ that retired from Warner Bros. It is entirely up to you and the same goes for life – if you approach something seeking flaw and with low expectation you will hate it. You can either watch an episode with a sourbake, constantly complaining about the use of a laugh track or you can leave thought at the door, kick back and consume a TV show that doesn’t require a degree to enjoy. It’s like going to McDick’s and expecting the Ritz. 

Friends was made to appeal to the masses and that’s what it does, now perhaps certain people can get over themselves, submit to the fact that they are part of the masses and begin to enjoy things for what they are rather than what they wish they were.

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