How do real FRIENDS behave?

I’ll answer that: not even remotely like the cast of the 1990s/2000s tv series ‘FRIENDS’.

Photo by Klaus Nielsen on

The cast of the show deceive one another intentionally all the time. Have you ever noticed that? They lie to each other so often that it’s actually more surprising when they don’t. Count the lies in an episode sometime; the times they fail to tell each other something they should have, or say something different from the truth, or let each other believe something to try to ‘get out of trouble’. That’s not common in the real world, at least not in the circles I’ve been in.

Another huge fault is that they rely so heavily on snark and sarcasm. Snark and sarcasm have been popular for a long time, but I feel they’ve had their day. They were funny occasionally when used by a person with dry wit and a good sense of humor, and a sensitivity to what constitutes ‘going too far’. But snark for the sake of belittling people and tearing down their self image is SO toxic. Yes, I’m using that trendy word ‘toxic’ because it’s so accurate in this situation.

And then, there’s the much talked about ‘Ross and Rachel’ affair. Basically, a toxic push-pull hot-cold dance of disrespect and ugliness mixed with heat and attraction. Yuck. And an entire generation of people who’ve watched this have ‘learned’ through watching that if you are ‘on a break’ from a romantic relationship you can justify sleeping around; that it doesn’t matter how you treat people as long as you are hot and they can see that; and that lying and manipulating won’t turn people off to you. I can say without hesitation that all of these ‘lessons’ are lies. People get hurt by those behaviors, it does not matter if you’re hot if you treat people hurtfully, and people avoid people who lie and manipulate.

The best friends I have had have behaved as such:

  • They show up when they say they will, they don’t make excuses or prioritize something flattering (like a date, sex, or a party) over our friendship.
  • They are honest and ALSO kind. They don’t say whatever it is they think just for the sake of ‘honesty’, but they don’t ever deliberately try to deceive me or anyone else.
  • They respect my feelings and speak well about me whether or not I am present. They don’t favor sarcasm over consideration of my well-being.
  • They don’t use sex appeal to get what they want (applies to romantic relationships, of course, but also that friends don’t flirt with my significant other).
  • They let me be myself and respect that, no belittling. They don’t assume that an apology will just fix everything, they actively treat me well at all times.

I wonder if NOT watching the reunion show would send a message that friendship actually means something to me? Thinking they wouldn’t notice. HOPING they right some of the many wrongs the series perpetuated (see the end of this post), but I won’t hold my breath.

Reasons a person might watch despite the above: curiosity is one factor, and there were cute moments in the show. The first two episodes were the funniest. Clearly I watched enough of it to know more than a thing or two about the show, however I deeply object to its inaccurate title. And, I have more respect for my own well-being and favor taking care of it over following a trend I don’t like, so if it isn’t better I will certainly not watch.

You could say I’m feeling good about being a good friend to myself.

Photo by Tim Douglas on

Other issues with the show, especially that relate to feminism:

  • sexist, chauvinist attitudes by men and women.
  • hypersexualization; like, men are always ready for sex all the time and intensely eager and obsessive about it. And women are always sex objects and should dress as such or get made fun of.
  • body image problems; are the main characters ever more than a size 4? I mean, maybe Phoebe at some point but very briefly, and she looks heavier in comparison to all the other people who are too skinny. Media portrayals have been shown to correlate with eating disorder prevalence (anorexia and bulimia, particularly, which can both seriously and permanently damage a person’s health).
  • Ditziness of women compared with mansplaining know-it-all attitudes of most of the men.
  • None of the women have careers in science or computers, math, no STEM representation.
  • NO people of color as main characters. Unforgivable, especially in a city as diverse as New York! ‘FRIENDS, the Iowa version’? Sure, all white. But in New York?? Are you freaking kidding me??
  • Disrespecting, humiliating, lambasting anyone with mental illness.
  • ‘Othering’ of people who don’t fit the preppy, trendy, yuppie status quo.

And more. Comment if you can think of more, or if you agree, or if you won’t be watching the reunion show. Or if you have a positive story about friendship– I’d really like to hear some of those right now!