The TV show FRIENDS is probably one of the most popular sitcoms of our time, owing its fame to its light-hearted humor, sheer quantity of episodes, and unique timing. The show aired its finale in 2004, long before I had started watching TV shows on my own, which meant that I had over 200 episodes to watch when I finally found out about it. Yes, it is one of the first shows I ever watched. It used to be a favorite, even when the humor seemed forced, it was my go-to shows on a sad day, when I was stressed, or just bored.
But oh my god, the sexism! It was only when I rewatched it that I truly saw the homophobia, the stereotyping, and the terribly blatant sexism of our dearest Ross Geller.
Ranging from "we were on a break", to his disrespectful jealousy, the stalking, dating a college student while being a college professor, and expecting Rachel to leave her Paris job for him, Ross is one of the most problematic characters on this show, in my opinion.
Simply talking about his "lesbian ex-wife" is not enough to counter the homophobia in the show, which of course attempts to show a gay wedding, and talk about the lack of acceptance and social obstacles faced by the couple. If we are to look at the language used, it becomes clear that there is a lot of stereotyping, lazy gay jokes, and even the lesbian wedding did not feature a kiss because the producers feared audience backlash.
Ross's character is more worrying for me simply because of the lack of repercussions faced, and the fact that none of his issues were actually dealt with. He dated a college student, and even had a crush on his cousin? and all that the show had to say about it was the implication that the girl is so beautiful, that even Phoebe later has a crush on her.
Overall, I find the unresolved issues appalling. I truly wish Rachel wouldn't have left her dream job for him, but all I can do at this point is hope, that future shows created dont feature similar themes, and manage to produce funny content that is not at the expense of other identities. But for now, every time I come across the show all I feel is this
- S. Fatima Tahseen