Entertainment

8 times ‘Friends’ would have been canceled by woke culture

So no one told you Twitter was gonna be this way.

As fans eagerly await Thursday’s release of “Friends: The Reunion” on HBO Max, the buzzy throwback begs an unpleasant question — would this beloved ’90s sitcom get away with its jokes in the modern days of cancel culture?

Unlikely. Below, the most controversial “Friends” themes and plot lines that would fire up the woke mob in 2021.

Chandler’s transgender dad

Chandler Bing’s transgender, drag queen father was the subject of some cheap laughs throughout the series, including Season 7’s “The One With Chandler’s Dad.”

In that episode, Charles Bing — whose stage name is Helena Handbasket — meets future daughter-in-law Monica (Courteney Cox, 56) in a Las Vegas drag club, where Monica stumbles over whether she should call the servers “he” or “she.”

Chandler (Matthew Perry, 51) admits that he has ignored Charles’ many attempts at contacting him over the years, and appears mortified when Helena takes the stage, sarcastically announcing, “and there’s daddy.”

Kathleen Turner and Matthew Perry as Charles and Chandler Bing on "Friends."
Chandler’s father was a transgender woman played by Kathleen Turner, who performed under the stage name Helena Handbasket.
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett C

Charles was played by Kathleen Turner, who has since admitted she would turn down the role were it offered to her now.

Homophobia among the guys

Considering it’s set in Greenwich Village, there are some startling moments in “Friends” that could easily be viewed as insensitive to the gay community.

Carol — Ross’ ex-wife and mother to his son Ben — is a lesbian, a fact that’s used as a punchline throughout the show, including Season 2’s “The One With The Lesbian Wedding.” After Carol marries her lover Susan, Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow, 57) — at the time inhabited by the ghost of an elderly woman, don’t ask — announces, “Now I’ve seen everything!”

Carol and her wife, Susan (played by Jane Sibbett and Jessica Hecht) on "Friends."
Ross’s ex-wife Carol (played by Jane Sibbett, right) was gay.
NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Later on in the series, Ross (David Schwimmer, 54) freaks out over Ben (played by a set of twins and then eventually Cole Sprouse, who is a twin) playing with a Barbie doll while being raised by two moms — both of which Ross regards as threats to Ben’s burgeoning masculinity.

There are other gay jokes among the guys. In Season 2’s “The One With The Baby On The Bus,” Joey (Matt LeBlanc, 53) and Chandler are mortified when they’re mistaken for Ben’s two dads while babysitting him. Later, they use that impression to their advantage — in order to score a double date with some unsuspecting women.

Rachel’s workplace violations

“The One with Rachel’s Assistant” in Season 7 checks plenty of boxes in the no-no column. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston, 52), as a newly promoted fashion executive, is hiring an assistant, but passes over highly qualified Hilda for the cute — but professionally underwhelming — Tag Jones (Eddie Cahill, 43).

Her reason? So she can date the new hire.

When other women at the office start showing interest in Tag, Rachel spreads a false rumor that he is gay in order to keep him to herself.

“Fat Monica” and other body shaming

Courtney Cox and Jennifer Aniston on "Friends."
Courteney Cox wore a fat suit to play “Fat Monica,” and Jennifer Aniston donned a facial prosthetic for Rachel’s original nose.

The sitcom’s frequent body shaming would not fly nowadays.

Monica’s early struggles with her weight are a running joke in flashbacks throughout the show, including a montage of an overweight Monica (Courteney Cox, 56, in a fat suit) silly dancing while eating food in “The One That Could Have Been, Part 1,” during Season 6.

The show is similarly callous towards “Ugly Naked Guy” — Monica and Rachel’s neighbor, who the group spies on regularly. They take the privacy violations one step further in Season 3, when they fashion a “giant poking device” to thread through his window and poke him, in order to see if he’s napping, or dead.

David Schwimmer as Ross talking to "ugly naked guy" on "Friends."
“Ugly Naked Guy” was the butt of a recurring joke on the early years of “Friends.”
NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Rachel’s original nose — for which Aniston wore an unflattering facial prosthetic — is also the butt of a number of jokes through the series.

Joey’s handsy tailor

In the Season 2 debut, “The One with Ross’s New Girlfriend,” Joey sends Chandler to his longtime tailor, Frankie.

Chandler comes back horrified, saying that Frankie was “cupping” parts of his body that needed no alteration.

Making light of adolescent sex abuse? Not exactly grade-A television.

When this is later revealed to Joey, who has been seeing Frankie since age 15, he tells Chandler and Ross that he thought Frankie’s fondling was normal: “That’s how they do pants!”

The guys’ misogyny

Putting it bluntly, about half of Joey’s dialogue, jokes about the female form, and other commentary would no longer make it to air.

Though, he’s not the only fella on “Friends” to have a cringeworthy, piggish moment.

In “The One with Rachel’s Book” during Season 7, Ross impersonates a masseur to give an attractive client a massage, which is not only remarkably creepy but likely illegal as well.

Making matters worse, that’s not even Ross’s grossest moment.

Ross’s incest plot

Even two decades ago, this creepy storyline was questionable.

“The One with Ross and Monica’s Cousin” in Season 7 has Ross reunite with his now-stunning cousin Cassie (Denise Richards) whom he had not seen for many years.

She decides to stay with Ross after admitting that the engaged Chandler “stares a lot” — something Ross also promptly does during a slow-motion montage of Cassie whipping her hair.

Later while they’re both on his couch drinking wine, Ross idiotically lunges to kiss Cassie. When she calls him out, he justifies the incestuous move with the fact that he hasn’t had sex in a long time. Gross.

Homogenous casting

Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Aisha Tyler (as Joey, Ross and Charlie) on "Friends."
The character Charlie Wheeler, played by Aisha Tyler, was added late into the show’s run after public outcry.
NBCUniversal via Getty Images

How did a show set in New York City only ever cast white people?

It took nine seasons for the hit series to finally bring on its first recurring black character in one of Ross’ girlfriends, paleontology professor Charlie Wheeler (Aisha Tyler, 50).

Tyler’s role was created after an outcry from fans regarding the show’s lack of diversity, something that co-creator Marta Kauffman admitted fault for last year.

Adding insult to injury, Charlie Wheeler was only in nine of the total 236 episodes.

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