If Friends Was Set in 2015 This is How Progressive the Show Would Be

Jessica Renae Buxbaum
Friends is known for being homophobic and white, how would the show look like in today's progressive culture?

Friends tv show

Let’s face it. Everyone loves "Friends." We can’t get enough of Ross and Rachel’s made-for-each-other rollercoaster relationship, Phoebe’s quirks and Chandler’s awkward jokes. Even as we wind down from the Netflix binge high, we can’t stop gorging on "Friends’" quizzes through our Facebook newsfeeds or referencing iconic "Friends" situations or quotes in our daily lives. But while the classic sitcom is certainly influential, its dated themes have a problem aligning with the progressive attitudes of 2015. Chandler is homophobic, “Fat Monica” is the endless butt of jokes and clearly these friends have no black friends. I am a huge fan of the show but its social take has always rotted in my chest with guilt. How can I love a show that goes against my core activist values? So in that light I took my "Friends" obsession one step further from my weeknight binge-watching and imagined how the show would fit in a 2015 setting that spoke to today’s youth’s passion for diversity and justice.

Monica would still be plus-size and embrace it

“Fat Monica” was the epitome of body shaming on television. Monica was constantly made fun of and rejected during her overweight days which implied that larger women cannot be accepted as beautiful and sexy in society.  This notion would not fly with today’s body-positive movement. Monica would not have shed those pounds to fit in, but instead accepted and loved her body — and none of her friends would shame her over her weight.

Chandler would actually be gay

Friends Chandler

A running theme was how Chandler possessed a “quality” that made him seem gay. Ironically the character was extremely homophobic and that was jokingly supposed to be part of his sarcastic charm — labeling him as the “Funny One.” In 2015, Chandler would be gay and be in touch with his feminine side (instead of fearfully rejecting it). Additionally, Joey and Chandler’s beloved bromance would blossom into a beautiful (actual) romance.

Ross would raise his kids using gender-neutral parenting

Ross Friends tv show

Another homophobic and sexist element in the show was Ross’ style of parenting. He was not okay with his son, Ben, playing with dolls and his daughter, Emma, having a male nanny. Ross in 2015 would be okay with all of this and encourage his children (and their caretakers) to embody feminine and masculine traits, instead of being restricted to their gender’s norms.

The "Lesbian Wedding" would be legal

One of my favorite parts about "Friends" is that the show exposed LGBTIQ identities to the public with Ross’ ex-wife in a lesbian partnership and Chandler’s father as transgender (although the way it displayed LGBTIQ was not always favorable). The lesbian wedding would definitely still be part of the show and it would actually be legal!

Racial diversity

A huge criticism of the 1990s' sitcoms is how white they were. If you turn on the TV today, we are starting to see a lot more people of color represented. "Friends" would not be about six white women and men, but have more ethnic diversity to appeal to America’s multicultural audience.

Monica would not be obsessed with marriage and kids

Monica’s bridezilla personality just wouldn’t cut it. Her obsession with babies and weddings make single women like myself feel like it just isn’t okay to be single. Modern-day Monica would choose singledom and be focused on her career rather than having a baby.

They would all smoke weed

The "Friends" gang were okay with drinking, but smoking weed was not part of their social life. One episode even depicted marijuana users as stereotypical careless stoners when Monica auditions for guest star Jon Lovitz’s restaurant.  With marijuana legalization on the rise and its increasing acceptance among Millennials, weed would not be seen as uncool and destructive, but rather positively as the whole group would be supportive of its decriminalization.