Top 10 Friends Jokes That Would Not Work on TV Today

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Top 10 Friends Jokes That Would Not Work on TV Today

VOICE OVER: JP WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
Script written by Savannah Sher

There's no excuse for distasteful jokes, but we have to admit, these jokes would definitely not fly in today's social climate. Fat Monica was always one of the prime running jokes throughout the series, but it was extremely fat shaming. They also mocked a recovering alcoholic, made fun of lesbians, and when everyone was transphobic. Eek, we definitely let a LOT of things fly back then.
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Top 10 Friends Jokes That Would Not Work on TV Today

We still love this classic sitcom, but you can tell some of these jokes were written in and for a very different time. Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Friends Jokes That Would Not Work on TV Today.

For this list, we’re taking a look at jokes, gags and/or humorous moments from “Friends” that got by in the ‘90s and early 2000s, but would likely be considered too touchy, offensive, or just out of place in today’s world.

#10: The One Where Joey & Chandler Can’t Handle Breastfeeding
“The One with the Breast Milk”


This Season 2 episode of “Friends” aired in 1995, and clearly the social dialogue about breastfeeding had not advanced to where it is today. Joey and Chandler are shocked when Carol starts breastfeeding Ben on the couch beside them. They made a big deal about it, jumping up to go to the other side of the room. While for years women felt the need to cover themselves and leave spaces in order to breastfeed in private, that’s no longer the case. Today we can recognize that sexualizing women’s bodies and forcing them to cover up while trying to feed their babies is definitely not okay.

#9: The One Where They Mock a Recovering Alcoholic
“The One with Russ”


Dealing with alcoholism in a sitcom may have seemed progressive when the writers added it to the plot in Season 2, but the storyline definitely would have gone differently if it was written today. Monica dates a guy who the gang dubs “Fun Bobby,” but they soon realize that he’s only so much fun when he’s drinking heavily. Once he makes the resolution to get sober, he is called “Ridiculously Dull Bobby” by Chandler. In order to stay with him, Monica ups her drinking, and he eventually dumps her because of it.

#8: The One Where Ross Is Jealous & Possessive
Various Episodes


When gearing up to rewatch “Friends,” modern audiences may worry about how womanizing Joey would hold up as a character. Despite his promiscuous ways however, he’s not the guy on the show who seems to treat women with disrespect. Ross is a classic “nice guy” who continually acts entitled to things from women, and in retrospect it’s really not all that charming. He tries to ruin Rachel’s relationships and preys on her when she’s emotionally vulnerable. With the girls he dates, he’s possessive and crazy jealous, which is what leads to his and Rachel’s big break up in the first place.

#7: The One Where Monica Was Slut Shamed
“The One Where Dr. Ramoray Dies”


In the very first episode, Monica sleeps with a guy on the first date and one NBC exec reportedly thought audiences wouldn’t sympathize because of it. He handed out a survey to a test audience asking if they thought she was a “whore.” While that plotline stayed in, the show didn’t always do the best job at handling this topic. In a second season episode, Monica and Richard are discussing how many people they’ve each been with, and while he seems okay with her number, the implication is still there that if it had been too high it would be unacceptable. This is in stark contrast to Joey, whose conquests are never questioned.

#6: The One Where Paolo Assaults Phoebe
“The One with the Dozen Lasagnas”


In Season 1, Rachel starts seeing a suave Italian guy named Paolo, and all seems well until Phoebe has an encounter with him while she’s giving him a massage. When Phoebe tells the group what happened, she says “Paolo came onto me,” which isn’t exactly severe enough language for what actually happened. The issue is made out to be that he was trying to cheat on Rachel, rather than the fact that he was literally sexually assaulting Phoebe in her workplace. This episode was filmed in 1994, so we’ll give them a pass, but by modern standards this issue should have been treated much more seriously.

#5: The One Where They Make Fun of Lesbians
Various Episodes


We have to give kudos to the “Friends” writers for including a gay couple on the show since that wasn’t necessarily par for the course in the ‘90s, but unfortunately their treatment of Carol and Susan can feel pretty dated upon rewatching. It seems that Ross is often the butt of the joke due to the fact that his wife left him for another woman, and it’s implied that this is worse than had she left him for any other reason. The actress who played Susan actually later revealed that she was cast because she “didn’t look like a lesbian.”

#4: The One Where Ross Won’t Let Ben Play with Dolls
“The One with the Metaphorical Tunnel”


The guys of “Friends” seem to have some problems with their masculinity, but none is so obvious about it as Ross. When his son, Ben, is a toddler, Ross is informed that his new favorite toy is a Barbie doll - and he will not stand for it. He tries everything in his power to ensure that Ben doesn’t end up playing with something so “girly.” Similarly, in a later season, he refuses to hire the perfect nanny for Emma because he is male, and even goes as far as asking him about his sexuality in the job interview. Definitely not okay!

#3: The One with All the Homophobia
Various Episodes


“Friends” is a show all about friendship... right? The guys on the show aren’t shy about showing their affection for each other, except when they decide a hug has gone on for too long or have an emotional moment. Not to mention, all of the times where one of the guys is shamed for doing something that isn’t traditionally masculine - like holding a bag or wearing a bracelet. If the show were made today, no one would waste any time acting like their bromances were insignificant.

#2: The One With All the Fat Shaming
Various Episodes

If there’s one recurring “Friends” joke that inevitably makes modern audiences cringe, it’s the treatment of Monica’s weight throughout the series. In Season 2, we get our first glimpse of “Fat Monica” when the gang watches their prom video, and after that the fat shaming just keeps on coming season after season. Before losing the weight, Monica is always the butt of the joke, and everyone from her brother to her own husband takes every chance they get to mock her for her size. Monica is only seen as a “real” character, worthy of our sympathy once she sheds the weight, but even then she can’t live down her past.

#1: The One Where Everyone Was Transphobic
Various Episodes


There are a lot of storylines on “Friends” that people aren’t wild about now that they have a little perspective, but none is more offensive than this one. Chandler’s biological father is a transgender woman, but throughout the show her gender identity is mislabeled and turned into a punchline time and time again. Chandler treats his dad like an embarrassment and he makes no effort to respect the life she has chosen to live. Because awareness of trans rights has come such a long way since “Friends” was on the air, it makes these scenes very difficult to watch.
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