The iconic sitcom Friends began in 1994 and aired its last episode in 2004, but its brilliant comedy and relatable characters are still loved and seen by many fans around the world. The adventures of these six New Yorkers hasn’t lost its luster in the eyes of lots of viewers, and it’s easy to see why it is still so beloved today.
Yes, many of the sitcom’s jokes, characters, and storylines have aged terribly. But the truth is Friends was really ahead of its time in some other aspects and the series was one of the first ones to address many important subjects. What moments proved that Friends was breaking new ground in the world of mainstream TV?
It Was The First Show To Feature A Lesbian Wedding
Although many of Friends depictions of LGBTQ+ people are inappropriate, it was the first series of all time to show a wedding between two women, and Susan and Carol became groundbreaking characters.
Ross is one of the best characters to represent the conservative population regarding themes such as masculinity and anything related to the LGBTQ+ community. He disapproves of the wedding at the beginning. But after hearing Monica explain to him that they want to get married because “they love each other, and they want to celebrate that love” and seeing Susan struggle after her dad doesn’t come to the wedding, he walks Susan down the aisle.
It Included Susan As One Of Ben’s Parents
Not all families have the traditional structure of two heterosexual married parents who raise children of their own. In fact, nowadays it’s fairly common to get all kinds of families that deviate from this stereotype, but back then it was still quite outrageous to depict something like that.
Anyone can be a parent, and under this premise, Friends was never afraid to present Susan as one of Ben’s mommies. She was never even mentioned as a step-mom. It almost seems like the creators knew that there is no such thing as being unlucky for having three parents who love a baby to death.
Phoebe is one of the best Friends characters and gave fans one of the few scenes in the series that made viewers cry their eyes out. It’s the scene when Phoebe gives birth to her brother’s triplets after being their surrogate mother and says goodbye to give them to Frank Jr. and Alice.
Friends addresses all the feelings and complications that happen in such situations, whether they are bad or good. It covers the whole spectrum, from Phoebe’s happiness to help his brother and wife achieve their dreams of having a family to the devastating moment when she realizes she has grown fond of them and wants to keep one, but cannot. This kind of plot and depth was not common for a sitcom back then.
Chandler and Monica’s Adoption
There are many children in the United States that are up for adoption and never get a family, but in most TV shows and movies, couples continue depicting a biological family and most of them don’t even show any other way of having children. Monica and Chandler are the best relationship in Friends, but it surprised many when they made the unusual sitcom decision (at least at the time) and decided to adopt.
They could have paid a fertility treatment or had a sperm donor to achieve Monica’s dream of getting pregnant and having a baby of her own, but instead, they adopt Erica’s twins. Very few sitcoms have portrayed adoption so well, and for a series that aired in the 90s, it was for sure groundbreaking.
Rachel Having Emma As A Single Mother
Rachel always had Ross’ support when she ended up getting accidentally pregnant with Emma, but she decided to not get married and raise her as a single parent instead. Although she lived with Ross at the beginning to take care of her together, it eventually didn’t work out, so she moved in with Joey and proved how it wasn’t necessary to have a husband or a traditional family to raise a baby.
Once again, Friends showed the many possible conditions of motherhood and unconventional families, and how it really doesn’t matter as long as the baby involved is raised with love and care.
Monica Proposing To Chandler
Friends was not afraid of defying stereotypical roles of women and men in society, and Monica’s proposal to Chandler was one of the most important episodes to prove it. Even in recent shows and movies, viewers see men proposing to women all the time, as it is something related to tradition more than love and affection.
It is unusual for women to propose, but in a dramatic series of events that had every fan at the edge of their seat, Monica proposed to Chandler in an unforgettable and wonderful way that made everyone tear up. This scene was definitely ahead of its time, and it is still one of the most romantic and unexpected moments in a sitcom.
Monica Slept With Paul The Wine Guy On The First Date
Friends overall was ahead of its time when it came to women’s sexuality. On multiple occasions, Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel talked openly about their sexual experiences and tastes. Fans can never forget when Monica gave Chandler a lesson about the female erogenous zones or the countless moments Phoebe referenced some kinky bed action. However, nothing was as scandalous as the pilot episode where Monica slept with Paul the wine guy on the first date.
It’s 2022 and people still judge women for who they sleep with and when they sleep with them, so Monica having sex on the first date on TV in 1994 was a surprise. Nevertheless, it was interesting and unique to see women’s romantic lives portrayed in such a new way.
Monica Taking Nudes For Chandler
“I’m Joey, I’m disgusting” has to be one of the most popular quotes of the series, and it is said by Joey after he finds one of Monica’s nudes by accident and has to cover up her relationship with Chandler. Mondler is a very relatable couple, and as many partners do, Monica gives Chandler a printed picture of her naked, which is just a vintage version of today’s digital nudes.
Although everybody is shocked by it, the fact that she took photos for Chandler is taken in a very light and comical way, as it should be in real life. Before everything becomes a gossipy mess, the scene where Monica gives Chandler her pictures is even sweet and shows how much they trust and love each other.
Phoebe’s Polyamorous Parents
It’s needless to say that Phoebe’s childhood was very heartbreaking. Her mom died by suicide, her dad abandoned her and her twin sister, and she had to live on the streets. It’s in season 4 that fans find out that Phoebe’s birth mother is actually Phoebe Abbott and she lives in Montauk.
As Abbott says, Frank, Lily, and her “were kind of a couple” and she became pregnant after one of their intimate moments. Phoebe’s upbringing is not ideal and her parents failed her, but still, Friends was showing once again one of the many possibilities when it comes to families and it presented very heartwarming moments about forgiveness and rebuilding family bonds.
The Male Manny Makes Ross Question His Toxic Masculinity
This is one of the episodes that has aged terribly for Ross’ character. He is nothing but ridiculously sexist and fires an incredible nanny because he is too feminine for a guy. However, in the end, when the nanny asks Ross why he bothered him so much, Geller bursts into tears explaining how his dad always pressured him into being a man.
It may seem like a funny scene, but it’s actually a very concerning matter that Friends managed to address comically. Throughout the series, fans learn how Ross was very feminine when he was a kid. He did makeup, played tea parties, and more. To learn Jack was tough on him and demanded him to be a man, forbidding him from doing “girly” stuff, explains a lot of Ross’ behavior and pain.
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