Whereas rewatching the present, many have identified tone-deaf messaging and dangerous tropes. Let’s unpack a few of them.
Mates is likely one of the most cherished sitcoms of all time. From the often-iconic humour, to the chemistry-filled relationships, to the cute shows of #friendshipgoals, the present captures how essential it’s to have a tight-knit crew of friends throughout your younger grownup years. So with a Friends reunion formally coming to HBO Max and Crave on Could 27, followers are ecstatic.
The reunion was shot on the authentic Good friend soundstage at Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank, California, and can characteristic the entire authentic solid members — Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Courteney Cox (Monica), Lisa Kudrow (Pheobe), David Schwimmer (Ross), Matt LeBlanc (Joey) and Matthew Perry (Chandler) — together with particular company like Justin Bieber, Cara Delevingne, Lady Gaga, Mindy Kaling, and even Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai. The reunion received’t be a brand new episode of the sitcom, however a behind-the-scenes take a look at the filming of the present, with solid members reminiscing and taking viewers on a stroll down reminiscence lane.
Up till it was taken off Netflix on the finish of 2020, Mates was one of many most-watched shows on the streaming platform. It’s been 17 years since a brand new episode aired, and whereas Mates has gained youthful followers through the years, it’s additionally obtained a good bit of criticism for a few of its tone-deaf moments.
Whereas we are able to recognize the sitcom and what it in the end stands for (and the legendary stars it produced — Aniston, we’re taking a look at you, woman), it’s essential to acknowledge the dangerous messaging that consequently lives on with the present’s legacy. With the Mates revival simply across the nook, right here’s a glance again at a few of our *much less fond* Mates reminiscences that, if we’re sincere, can keep on a break.
The homophobic and transphobic jokes
Mates obtained reward for depicting a lesbian marriage ceremony at a time when it was not commonplace to take action on TV. Carol (Jane Sibbett) and Susan (Jessica Hecht) had been absolutely developed characters who weren’t merely the butt of a joke, as was usually the case in Nineteen Nineties mainstream popular culture. However even with elevated LGBTQ+ illustration on Mates and different ’90s exhibits like Roseanne and Ellen, homophobia and transphobia had been nonetheless acceptable punchlines.
The present additionally encourages viewers to query and snigger on the blurring of conventional gender roles. Within the episode “The One With the Male Nanny,” Ross insists his male nanny should be homosexual as a result of he works in a sometimes feminine job. Because the good friend with the least quantity of romantic relationships with ladies, Chandler was usually the goal (and supply) of homosexual jokes. However Chandler’s jokes had been mostly directed at his father, who was probably a transgender woman. Chandler’s childhood trauma stemmed from his dad abandoning their household to be with their youthful worker, or “home boy.” All through the present, each time Chandler references his father, it’s at all times accompanied by a joke poking enjoyable at their seemingly ambiguous or undefined gender identification. When the one on-screen illustration trans persons are given is of an absent father who broke up a household, it’s dangerous and demonizing.
The “you’re fats, and it’s humorous since you’re fats” trope
Monica’s backstory is that when she was youthful, she was obese. To get fun out of viewers, the present would usually put Courteney Cox in a fats go well with to play “Fats Monica” for a throwback episode. When Monica is fats, she’s not the identical Monica: her total persona turns into about meals and her weight. Making a joke of Monica’s earlier weight was used time and again all through the sequence, and this kind of narrative contributes to the dehumanization of fats folks in mainstream media that’s still prevalent today. This trope is drained and so are we! Subsequent.
The whitewashed model of NYC
New York Metropolis is likely one of the most various cities on the planet, and but on Mates, all the main characters are white — we’re taking a look at you too, Intercourse and the Metropolis. The one two recurring non-white characters on the present had been Ross’s girlfriends Julie and Dr. Charlie Wheeler. In an interview with The Guardian, Schwimmer stated that he “campaigned for years to have Ross date ladies of color” as a result of he noticed the dearth of range on the present. However Ross relationship two ladies of color over the course of 10 seaons isn’t precisely a significant stride in the direction of diversifying the solid.
The misogyny handed off as “boys being boys”
Joey is seen because the lovable, infantile, dim-witted character — he’s an actor who doesn’t get a lot work, sandwiches are his favorite meals, and he depends on his roommate and finest good friend Chandler to cowl the payments. However in relation to relationships, or extra particularly intercourse, Joey is revered by his male buddies for being “the person.” Regardless of not having a lot going for him career-wise, Joey is continually getting lovely ladies to exit with him. The issue is that he sees these ladies as conquests, and has no respect for them as folks. He leads ladies on and ghosts them when he doesn’t wish to speak to them anymore. This angle is seen as aspirational to the lads in his life, which hasn’t aged effectively.
In rewatching the present, the failings of Mates turn out to be extra obvious. However regardless of its shortcomings, Mates does a stable job of displaying the realities of navigating the world as a younger grownup, and the way your pals are among the most significant relationships you possibly can have at the moment in life. We are able to’t low cost the influence Mates has had on the world, however typically, we want we may return and tweak it, just a bit.
You possibly can catch the Mates reunion on HBO Max and Crave on Wednesday, Could 27.