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HBO Max Friends reunion comes to a halt

by Lisa Striffolino

On Friday, Feb. 21, word broke through Instagram that a reunion special for the TV show Friends will be launched on an upcoming streaming platform called HBO Max. Five out of six of the Friends gang took the same post to Instagram which featured all six stars captured in an older photoshoot, with the caption reading, “It’s happening.” This excludes LeBlanc, though, as he took a different route, posting a photo from MASH, but with the same caption.

The special is unscripted and originally set to air in May 2020. Although, at the time of writing the premiere, the special has been delayed due to a halt on production caused by the Coronavirus. There has not been much detail leaked on what the special will hold, except that it will star all six of the original friends, including Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer.

The talk of this reunion special brings many back to the original episodes of this hit sitcom. Overall, the show was filled with light-hearted, family-friendly comedy. Yet, if you were to dig a little deeper into each episode, you would discover some of the darker humor that may not be accepted in this day and age.

Friends debuted in September of 1994. Being over 25 years old, it would not be unusual to have jokes that may have been funny in the 1990s, not carry over so well into the next few decades. 

There are several story points throughout the series that some have been able to detect as being quite sexist, almost always circling around Schwimmers’ character, Ross Geller.

After Ross had his son Ben, an episode included how he doesn’t like Ben playing with so-called “girl” toys. This type of storyline may not go over well in today’s world. Especially, as many have come together over the years to recognize and appreciate the growth of different genders and sexual orientations.

Another storyline in the series that may not sit right with some is the way that Ross acts towards Rachel’s decision to hire a male nanny for their daughter. He is extremely taken back by the idea of a man being a nanny and even goes as far as to ask him if he is gay. He asks Rachel, “What kind of job is that for a man–a nanny? It’s like if a woman wanted to be a…” but is then cut off. A what, Ross? What were you going to say? A joke like that may not be considered light-hearted in the slightest if it was presented in modern day.

With all of that aside, though, many fans are more than excited to be able to see the six Friends back together on the same screen. The chemistry between all of the actors is definitely a reason why the show was as successful as it was. It is fascinating to be able to look back and see the huge way in which times have changed since the 1990s and to look at the types of jokes that would not necessarily be accepted today as they were back then.

Lisa Striffolino can be reached at lisa.striffolino@spartans.ut.edu.

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