Why I Hated Friends

“Friends” was one of those shows I caught in re-runs, because it was on at a time of day when I felt like watching TV and didn’t care much what was on. Even then, there were episodes I just had to turn off. But generally, it was well-written, funny, and broke some stereotypes while catering to others. In other words: it could’ve been worse.

But the reason I ultimately hated the show was the ridiculous emphasis on the way the women looked. Here’s Chandler (Matthew Perry), gaining and losing weight like a normal guy, and Ross (David Schwimmer) experimenting disastrously with styling gel and leather pants like a normal (neurotic) guy, and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) looking good because he’s an actor and it comes with the territory (fair enough). But I’m looking at Monica (Courtney Cox), who’s unemployed and struggling to pay bills, and mysteriously not being offered lucrative modelling contracts even though she looks like, hello, Courtney Fox Cox, and thinking, “Maybe if you cut out one or two of your $500 hair-lacuqering sessions every month, you wouldn’t have these problems. And while you’re at it: gain a few pounds, stick-insect girl. You’re not that sad little overweight kid anymore.” And then there’s Jennifer Aniston spawning entire decade-long hair styles named after her.

And did you ever see these struggling, impoverished young people wear the same effing outfit twice? Who was supposed to be paying for all those clothes? Even the guys seemed to have a Supernatural Infinity Closet spouting out new outfits daily.

Comments

  1. aizjanika says

    Hehe Like you, I mostly only caught this show after it was mostly over, but we actually bought the DVDs because…we loved it. *g* It was all that you say and more (both good and bad), and, I admit that I was alarmed to see how thin Courtney Cox became in the last few seasons, but I never hated her character or anything. That was a problem the actress had and, just like with the guys gaining and losing (and including Joey/Matt LeBlanc who put on a few pounds over the years), I just accepted it as her problem and tried not to be any more judgmental of her than I was of the guys. She didn’t seem overly skinny to me at first, but maybe I just never noticed. The other women on the show seemed to stay about the same, but I may just not have noticed.

    I think I liked Monica as a character because she was a lot like me–except in the weight department. (I was thin as a teen, heavier as an adult. *g*) Personality-wise, though, she was like me times 1000.

    Anyway, it’s true that so much of the show made no sense whatsoever, but for some reason, on this show, I liked the characters–all of them (even the ones, like Rachel, that I’d been inclined to dislike quite a bit at first) so I cared about other things less with this show. I think that’s true of me with all shows–a character flaw in me, maybe *g*

    As for clothes, I usually don’t notice clothes unless it’s on something I watch over and over and even then…it’s not the first thing I noticed. If I noticed, it was to wonder why they all wore such hideously ugly clothes all the time. That would be my only complaint with the show. *g* I definitely did not watch with critical eyes or a critical brain, though. That was one of my “no brain” shows. *g*

    That reminds me that I still haven’t watched the season 10 DVDs yet.

    Does it really cost $500 to do that to one’s hair? Yikes. I just use conditioner. *g*

    I think I can understand what you’re saying, though–that they didn’t even try to have these characters look like how people in their position would look, for the most part–the women anyway.

  2. Gategrrl says

    I’d seen a few episodes of “Friends” but never got into it. Sitcoms have been off my radar for years. But the FIRST thing *I* noticed was the *place* these people lived in. Excuse me, but in NYC, people doing what they were doing for a living can’t afford a place like that. They can live in shoebox sized ratholes, but not in apartments with those incredible windows. Unless they live in a really bad part of town, and even then…noway.

    It was cute here and there. Hmm. The last sitcom I got into was the one with Tim Allen, and then for a few months the one with that Italian comedian and his “wife” and meddlesome parents and huge brother (who was a riot). And before that, Roseanne. Sitcoms just don’t really speak to me these days. If I want silly fluff, I’ll go pet my flatulent dog!

  3. sbg says

    They did explain the apartment away with the ‘it was grandma’s apartment (shhh, don’t tell anyone it’s not her who lives here), rent controlled building’ thing. ;)

    I liked Friends until I had the traumatic fortune of getting a job that required me to work every Thursday night, and I discovered that I really could live very happily without it.

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think I can understand what you’re saying, though – that they didn’t even try to have these characters look like how people in their position would look, for the most part – the women anyway.

    Yeah, that’s what I meant. I didn’t hate Monica, either. But I don’t equate underweight with overweight. Gaining a few pounds is very normal, and not at all unhealthy. But for an adult woman to go from slim to Holocaust victim… there’s a health problem there, whether it’s above or below the neck. Remember, I grew up in the 80’s, when that scary visible-ribs-and-collar-bones look was being impressed upon us girls as the body type we had to have for guys to want us. I was always curvy and overweight, and to this day, I think it would be hilarious if all the 80’s fashionistas were thrown into a pit and starved to death. Me? Bitter? Sure, but so’s coffee. ;)

    Does it really cost $500 to do that to one’s hair? Yikes. I just use conditioner. *g*

    I’m no hair diva, but living in L.A., I know there are processes costing $500 and up for making hair shiny and smooth. There’s a Japanese straightening process (I don’t know if she used it or not) that’s very popular – starts at $600 if you get it bargain basement, and some people I know do it every couple of months. Monica’s hair just looked expensive rather than naturally beautiful. Contrast it with Jennifer Garner’s hair on Alias, when she’s not undercover: it just looks like it’s got a natural, healthy gloss to it, not lacquer.

    Complaining about hair and makeup may seem silly to some people, but one of my pet peeves is that even when a woman is picking her way through a jungle, her “no-makeup” look involves, well, a good bit of makeup. To me, it’s just one more way shows demonstrate they don’t take female characters as seriously as males.

  5. aizjanika says

    I don’t think it’s silly to complain about hair and makeup. I don’t always notice those things, but in watching older episodes of SG-1 now, I can definitely notice the difference between season 1 Sam and Now Sam. Season 1 Sam looked natural and healthy and beautiful, but like she could be a soldier. Having been around the military for such a long time, I have seen many attractive people–including simply gorgeous women–in the military. I have seen few who wear so much makeup. But then again, they’ve almost always had her hair in inappropriate ways for the military–Janet’s too, BTW, though I’ve seen fewer complaints about that.

    Anyway, Amanda Tapping is a gorgeous woman and nothing they could do would change that, so why now try to make her look, well, exactly how a woman in her position most likely wouldn’t look?

    OTOH, some people have complained about Daniel Jackson’s hair, too–not that it looks bad, but just that…why is he using hair gel and having that little flippy thing in the front? (Personally, I think it looks cute and I like it. *g* I like to assume it just goes that way out of the shower. *g*)

    I get your point, though. They didn’t make a big deal about Matthew Perry’s looks on the show, though what could they have done? Fire him? (And I always thought he looked good, regardless of weight.) But they never mentioned it on the show, whereas Monica’s previous state of being overweight was mentioned a lot.

    But I don’t equate underweight with overweight. Gaining a few pounds is very normal, and not at all unhealthy.

    I do. I know at least a few people with eating disorders who struggle to gain a few pounds. And, yes, gaining a few pounds isn’t necessarily unhealthy, but people who are obese struggle with losing in exactly the same way as those who are too thin struggle to gain. I don’t think there are easy answers to either question–just that it’s a problem on both sides–and one in which society in general if very judgmental–on both sides (though especially on the overweight side).

    And yikes on the hair stuff! I rarely even get my hair cut because that’s so expensive nowadays–or so it seems to me. *g*

  6. Jennifer Kesler says

    Season 1 Sam looked natural and healthy and beautiful, but like she could be a soldier.

    This bothered the hell out of me. She was wearing full makeup in the field. Now even if that’s allowed, and I really don’t know, it suggests extreme vanity to me. I don’t think that’s what the producers intended – they just assume we “expect” the woman to look all prettied up, and won’t notice. And I actually like her hair very short, where it does look like the way I’ve seen real military women wear it. Amanda Tapping is a natural beauty – she looks her best with less makeup and simpler hair. I assumed that’s why they cast her – so she could look great AND like a soldier. As for Janet’s hair, I always wondered about that – were there different regulations for a doctor who worked almost exclusively on base? I guess the USAF advisor approved it, but I frequently thought she should have had it tied back, like a food service worker or a nurse does.

    OTOH, some people have complained about Daniel Jackson’s hair, too -not that it looks bad, but just that – why is he using hair gel and having that little flippy thing in the front?

    Well, maybe I’ve lived in L.A. too long, but real guys use hair gel. Many real guys want to look their best, and hair is one of the main vanity points for them. The tradition goes all the way back to The Fonz and that whole Brylle (sp?) Cream era. Hell, the guys who founded this here manly man US of A wore powdered wigs, stockings and beauty marks. It’s really only in the 20th century that we got this idea that men should do nothing to beautify themselves, while women should have surgery to look certain ways. Yeesh.

    Another take on Daniel: maybe he’s been around the Goa’uld too long. All that male Goa’uld appearance vanity’s rubbed off on him. :D

  7. sbg says

    Oh, and I was fine with friends until I eventually saw the one with Monica in a fat suit. I was appalled with that whole episode. Is is and never should be okay to use obesity as a comedy routine. Especially when the obese person being portrayed is nothing but a walking stereotype that simply is not true for many obese people.

  8. aizjanika says

    Amanda Tapping is a natural beauty – she looks her best with less makeup and simpler hair. I assumed that’s why they cast her – so she could look great AND like a soldier. As for Janet’s hair, I always wondered about that – were there different regulations for a doctor who worked almost exclusively on base?

    I don’t believe a doctor would have different regulations, but I can’t be sure since she wasn’t often seen in uniform, was she? I’ve been in a lot of military hospitals and other military medical facilities and anyone in uniform is dressed appropriately and has their hair up above the collar. What I’m unsure of is if she has to have her hair up when *not* in uniform.

    As for Daniel’s hair, I think the complaint was that Daniel didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would fuss with his hair or be vain in that way–especially not when going out on missions. I still think it’s the wind blowing through his hair because he had the window down on the way to work. *g*

    I didn’t mean to imply that “real guys” don’t use hair gel, but to be honest, except for teenage boys who do bizarre things with their hair, I have never met a “real guy” who used it.

    P.S. This is the first time I’ve attempted to use the spellchecker and it doesn’t work for me. When I click on it, nothing happens.

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