News and Commentary

TOTO: The Woke Scolds Can’t Stop ‘Friends’ 25 Years Later
Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matt Le Blanc as Joey Tribbiani, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay.
Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Media scolds didn’t need an excuse to take pot shots at “Friends.” It’s been open season on the beloved NBC sitcom for some time. Last year alone produced a flood of “think pieces” savaging the smash as “problematic.” Story after story noted “Friends” wouldn’t fly in our Cancel Culture age.

Remember Monica’s fat suit flashbacks? What about Chandler using the wrong pronoun for his trans parent? And let’s not forget the one where Rachel hired an assistant based on his looks.

The horror, the horror.

Millennials allegedly clutched their pearls every time the show popped up on their Netflix menu. Or so we were told by our media betters.

The show’s 25th anniversary lets the usual suspects bear their fangs all over again. The most egregious article deemed the show racist … just like a certain president. Here’s a Gothamist piece weaponizing the cast’s skin color in the first paragraph alone:

Friends, that show based on a white person’s idea of New York City about six white twenty-something friends who were each just the right amount of neurotic and pretty, is turning 25 this month…

The President is a white supremacist, and white nationalist domestic terrorism is at an all-time high in America, but sure, let’s totally celebrate one of the whitest shows in the history of white America with an extended interactive experience that allows you to pretend that one of the country’s most diverse cities in America is actually all white, and also get a photo op with … a recreated set of the fictional coffee shop with a couch that was only ever available for said six friends to sit?

The crush of woke attacks grew so furious the far-left Entertainment Weekly ran to the show’s defense this week. Yes, “Friends” had its woke-free moments, the article argues, but it did portray a positive lesbian relationship via Ross’ ex. That counts for something:

It’s okay to celebrate the show while also recognizing it as an example of how far we’ve come as a culture. And if you still need something to be angry about, you needn’t look any further than the here and now.

Remember, you can’t get too angry about a sitcom’s woke fails when Orange Man Bad calls the White House home.

None of this is denting the show’s legacy with fans past and present, mind you. Fathom Events will screen four “Friends” episodes in theaters nationwide over three nights – Sept. 23, 28, and Oct. 2 to mark the show’s quarter century milestone.

Two “Friends” pop-up shops, which will set visitors back $29.50 per person, are currently open in SoHo. The exhibits feature set recreations, props, and costumes from the show’s glory days.

A replica of the show’s orange couch from the Central Perk coffee shop set is touring the globe this fall.

The series even made the jump to big-screen respectability. The creative team behind “Friends” appeared at a 25th anniversary celebration this week at the Tribeca Film Festival.

And, of course, Netflix shelled out $100 million last December to keep showing all 236 episodes for at least another year.

Does any of that sound like a show suffering from any type of decline?

“Friends” wasn’t just another TV sensation. The series sparked a hairstyle sensation – remember “The Rachel” ‘do? It injected catch phrases into the culture, like “How you doin’?” and “We were on a BREAK!”

Co-star Jennifer Aniston went from visiting Howard Stern’s studio as a NutriSystem success story to becoming an A-list film star.

“Friends” didn’t cure the common cold, but its pop culture legacy is rock solid, then and now. And, given our vast nostalgia appetites, we want to re-live those times, especially as we age right along with the show’s pretty cast.

A select group of scribes would rather we didn’t. Guess who isn’t listening? Why, it’s almost like reporters have a serious disconnect with their readers. Again.