I mainaged to get through the nineties without seeing more than an episode or two of Frazier, Roseanne,Seinfeld, and of course the big sitcom icon of the era, Friends.
But thanks to the miracle of Netflix, I managed to binge my way to currency in the NBC classic sometime over the past year.
And when I watched it, I thought “what an almost quaint throwback; it almost felt like a seventies sitcom” – which, in many ways, it was; a transition between the manners of 70-s and ’80s TV and what we have today.
But as I watched – and mostly enjoyed – I couldn’t help think that stories like this were pretty much inevitable:
Having been given a new life on Netflix two decades after it debuted on NBC in 1994, Friends is being seen by a suspicious new generation with beady new eyes. Those eyes are more determined to find something to be offended by than anyone was in the 1990s, when the Paul Reveres fighting the political-correctness revolution were already warning you, “The idiocy is coming! The idiocy is coming!”
“Millennials watching Friends on Netflix shocked by storylines,” ran the headline of a piece by Ilana Kaplan, writing from New York for the Independent. Examples of the kinds of things Millennials apparently find shocking: “New audiences claimed that Rachel would have been fired for sexual harassment because she hires an assistant who isn’t qualified for the position because she wants to date him.” Fat jokes — “Some girl ate Monica!” cried Joey (Matt LeBlanc) — are also now out of bounds, the Independent huffs. Using the royal “we” for extra authority,
Cosmopolitan writer Katie Stow says “the show is getting ripped to shreds for its ‘problematic’ content and — even as hardcore fans — we can’t help but agree,” scoring the sitcom for “chucking offensive and inappropriate hand grenades all over every episode.” This must be the first time in recorded history that anyone compared Friends’ cutesy banter to hand grenades.
I can not wait for the millennials to have teenagers and twentysomethings of their own.