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May 6, 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the series finale of Friends, a television event the likes of which we still haven’t seen, even after Walter White took on a gang of white supremacists and Ted Mosby revealed that his wife had been dead the whole time. But while we often look back on Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and Joey with fondness and joy, we tend to overlook the fact that these characters could often be terrible human beings. Those funny, charming New Yorkers you always wanted to hang out with often behaved in a way that was better suited to the gang at Paddy’s Pub. What makes Friends even more evil than It’s Always Sunny, though, is that so many of the gang’s despicable deeds were simply glossed over by the writers. In honor of the finale’s 10th anniversary, and the celebratory marathon you’re no doubt planning, we’ve rounded up the gang’s worst behavior, and the ways that the show taught us to look past it. Think of it as adding some much needed balance to your sitcom nostalgia.
Rachel Making Barry’s Wedding About Her
It should be said from the start that Rachel’s ex fiancé Barry is the worst. But that still doesn’t exclude her from making his wedding to her best friend Mindy all about her. Yes, he placed a bet on how much torture she’d endure, but your friends’ wedding is not the place for your big, redemptive speech about how you’ve moved on, forgiven them, and become a better person in the end. Just write it in the card!
Monica Wearing Emily’s Wedding Dress
While it’s not nearly as morally reprehensible as some of the actions on this list, Monica secretly wearing her future sister in law’s wedding gown around her apartment, just to boost her own self-esteem is a pretty rude (and weird) thing to do. It’s not your day, it’s not your dress, and it’s not about you!
Chandler Pressuring Rachel to Start Smoking
Chandler’s been a smoker since the age of nine, and even though he managed to give up cigarettes, he’s apparently still a big fan of the smell. So much so that he would pressure Rachel to take up smoking just so he wouldn’t have to give up the smell along with the cigarettes… even though it could, say, get her addicted and possibly lead to a great deal of health problems.
Rachel Spreading Lies About Tag’s Sexual Orientation to Keep Him Single
Tag was a hot, single guy in an office full of women, so naturally Rachel had some competition for his affections. However, her plan to tell everyone else in the office that he was gay in order to get them to back off wasn’t the way to handle that. Generally speaking, making up elaborate stories about friends’, coworkers’, and (especially!) hopeful significant others’ sexual identities is a pretty psychotic move.
Monica Not Checking On Her Infant Nephew After He Hit His Head
In all fairness to Monica, baby sitting can be tough. But when you accidentally hit your nephew’s head on the ceiling, your first though shouldn’t be “How can I hide this from his father so that I don’t get in trouble?” but rather, “Hey, is my toddler nephew okay? He hit his head pretty hard, and I wouldn’t want him to be seriously injured.”
Ross Firing Emma’s Nanny Because He’s a Guy
Emma’s first nanny, Sandy (Freddie Prinze Jr.), was everything a parent could want: he was smart, competent at his job, good with Emma, and he even taught Joey a thing or two. But Sandy didn’t stick around for very long purely because Ross couldn’t wrap his head around the idea of a male nanny. Because apparently, it doesn’t matter how good you are at caring for a child; if you’re not a lady, you’re not fit to raise Ross’ kid. That’s just bona fide sexism from the would-be intellectual.
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Chandler Constantly Mistreating Janice
We’re not going to deny that Janice’s laugh is really annoying. But that still doesn’t make it okay for Chandler to have Phoebe dump her so he doesn’t have to, call her whenever he’s lonely, sleep with her, and then dump her again the next day. Or lie about moving to Yemen just so she won’t bother him. Or pretend to be in love with her, even though he knows she still has feelings for him, in order to manipulate her into moving away. Turns out Chandler was a total jerk.
The Gang (and Show) Endorsing a Relationship Between an Adult and a Minor
Everybody remembers that Phoebe was a surrogate for her brother, Frank, and his wife Alice, so that they could have a family. What they tend to forget is that Frank and Alice started dating when he was a minor and she in her 40s. He was a student in her Home Economics class in high school, and that he often referred to her as “Mrs. Knight” rather than by her first name. Monica, Rachel, and Ross were all guilty of similar malfeasances with younger lovers. Oh, but they were all madly in love, so the statutory rape is totally fine.
Rachel Convincing Bonnie to Shave Her Head
When Phoebe decides to set her friend Bonnie up with Ross, Rachel is supportive only because she remembers that Bonnie is bald, and knows that Ross wouldn’t find that attractive. So, when it turns out that Bonnie’s hair has grown back and Ross is interested, Rachel convinces her to shave he hear again, gives her the razor to do it with, and then confesses her feelings to Ross while he and Bonnie are in the middle of a fight. But as long as Ross and Rachel end up together, who cares what happens to everyone else, right?
Monica Getting Drunk in Front of Her Alcoholic Boyfriend
When Monica’s boyfriend Fun Bobby realizes that he has a drinking problem and gets sober, rather than being supportive of him, she just becomes upset that he’s not “fun” anymore – the gang even goes so far to rename him “Ridiculously Dull Bobby” – and she starts drinking heavily in order to endure her dates with him. Because if your boyfriend is really, really boring, it’s okay to get rid of him by any means necessary… even if it means tempting him with the very substance he’s worked very hard to kick.
Manipulating People Who Were Mentally Ill
No, it’s not okay to threaten your roommate or watch him while he’s sleeping. But you know what else isn’t okay? Taking advantage of someone’s mental illness as a way of tricking them into move out of your apartment and leaving you alone, which is exactly what Chandler did to his roommate Eddie. Also not okay? Convincing a mentally unstable woman who thinks Joey is actually his soap opera character Dr. Drake Ramoray to run away to Salem to “be with Drake” in order to get her to stop stalking him. At least they’ve got that peace and quiet now, though, right?
So… Many… Homophobic Jokes…
Whether someone was making wisecracks about Chandler and Joey’s friendship or Ross was freaking out over his ex-wife’s new wife, it’s hard to name a post-Season 4 episode of Friends without a single homophobic joke in it. They were practically a fundamental part of Chandler’s characterization, especially when the show delved into his relationship with his father. And yet everybody just went along with Chandler and Joey keeping barnyard animals as pets. Clearly, the writers were mining the wrong territory for jokes.
And worst of all…
Nobody Ever Made the Effort to Go to Phoebe’s Place!
Phoebe made that trip across town every single day to hang out with her friends. Every single day. And they just about never returned the favor by heading over to her neighborhood. Sure, most of them lived in one building and Central Perk was nearby, but it would have been nice of them to give their friend a day off from schlepping all the way across the city just to have yet another conversation about the relationship status of Ross and Rachel.