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On May 6, 2004 Friends closed its doors after 10 seasons, 236 episodes and several audience records. Even today, this sitcom, while representing an outdated vision of television writing, holds its own with excellent management of gags, characters by character and the charisma of its actors.

Friends has represented for many years the plot that inspired subsequent productions, such as How I Met Your Mother, outlining the archetypes of fundamental characters such as the womanizer, the obsessive compulsive character, the one out of this world and so on.

However, Friends is still the daughter of its times and revised today, even with all the contextualizations of the case, it shows us how different the sensitivity was in television and how certain products were designed exclusively for a very specific audience that rarely went beyond heterosexual white viewers. .

And if Joey’s hunger, Phoebe’s songs and Chandler’s cynicism still make us laugh, there are other aspects that are now ancient and outdated such as VHS, Gig Tigers and telephone booths.

Perhaps at the time, the West Village of Manhattan was an area particularly frequented by white people, but in the more than two hundred episodes of Friends the lack of diversity is at times embarrassing. They are almost all white Caucasians, even the extras. It seems to live in a Tommy Hilfiger commercial, indeed, no, maybe there some people with skin of a color other than white can be found. There are only two notable exceptions to this strict rule: when Ross has a date with Julie, an Asian girl, and Charlie Wheeler, an African American doctor.

There are at least a couple of situations in which the protagonists of Friends behave totally inappropriately in the workplace, exploiting their dominant position. In the first case, Ross, a paleontology teacher, sees himself with one of his students despite the fact that the affair risks getting him fired and she is a minor, with all the comic implications of the case. In the second, perhaps the situation is even worse, because Rachel decides to hire a male assistant, Tag, just because he is cute and hopes to go out with him, sending home the other candidate who was a much more prepared and suitable girl for the role. A gesture that today at least would fill the social media accounts of the network with a flood of protests. Ah, and how can we forget Monica having sex with a minor lying about her identity? But so much he is a male and she a beautiful woman, who cares right?

Ross is probably the most cultured of the group, he is a teacher, he is the prototype of what would later become the archetype of the nerd in a TV series. This is also reflected in his way of speaking, always very calm and thoughtful, but also in the world in which he is made fun of. In Friends, everything that is different from the standard is routinely mocked and of course Ross is ridiculed because he knows too much, because he’s boring, because he speaks slowly, because he kills the fun, because he thinks too much. An approach worthy of a group of middle school bullies. He is almost never a positive character, but a neurotic little professor who often changes his mind about women and who bores people when he speaks. The message is clear: knowledge does not make you popular and therefore is to be avoided.

At first, Friends looks like a progressive TV series in which for the first time we see a couple of women, Ross’s ex-wife and his partner, taking care of a child. But this illusion is soon chased away by scenes in which Ross worries about the child playing with the Barbies and a slew of jokes about their relationship. Then there is Joey who is afraid of being perceived as less masculine if he uses a bag and obviously all the Chandler gag who at first glance is always considered gay and this leads him to have homophobic attitudes, made even stronger by a father with female appearance (whether she is in drag or transgender is not known, so much the role is played directly by a woman, Kathleen Turner) which starts a series of jokes about the genitals. And what about the episode in which Rachel hires a male nanny, arousing the outrage of Ross who immediately asks him if he’s gay?

One of the recurring gags throughout the series is that Monica was morbidly obese in high school. In some flashbacks we see her eating compulsively and every time she is on stage she follows the clichés of the overweight characters: poor hygiene, interest only in food, noisy and vulgar character. Whenever Fat Monica is on the scene the sitcom becomes a machine gun of weight jokes, a real lesson in Fat Shaming and of course it’s Chandler who takes the lion’s share, providing all viewers with lots of hilarious phrases, underlined by the recorded laughter, which the viewers can then reuse in real life, with the great joy of their friends and especially friends, with an Xxl. Joey is also theoretically obsessed with food, but being the cool guy of the bunch, it matters less. In one episode, however, we also see Fat Joey and the weight jokes start again.

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