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'The one where they journeyed ahead of time': Here's why iconic sitcom 'Friends' was way progressive for its period

Through the most beloved group of friends, the epic series 'Friends' has much more to say.

Megha Mukundan
Jul 15, 2021
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It has been more than two decades since the epic sitcom Friends last episode was telecasted. But still, if it is managing to be on the top ten list of Netflix India's most-watched shows often, there is something about this show that glues it to its audience as the theme song says 'I’ll be there for you.' Besides being on everyone’s constant binge list, the show has initiated many discussions about how it has handled many progressive ideas which were too ahead of the time it was created.

Here are some instances where Friends went beyond their period:

1) The one with three different motherhoods


The show redefines the stereotypical norms of motherhood by portraying a surrogate mother (Phoebe), a single mother (Rachel) and an adoptive mother (Monica). In a society where the idea of motherhood is very narrow, this particular portrayal has helped in amplifying the idea that it’s all about one’s choice.

2) The one with the queer wedding


The lesbian couple Carol (Jane Sibbett) and Susan (Jessics Hecht) and their wedding are the real revolutionary movement of the 90s show since it was a time when homosexuality was not accepted. The episode was aired in 1996 when the state of New York didn’t recognize same-sex marriages.

3) The one where Phoebe sings about homosexuality


When Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) is hired to sing for children in a public library in season two, she soon becomes “the lady singer who tells the truth”. She sings about homosexuality and gets fired, but her young friends happen to follow her to the Central Perk cafe to hear her sing. “Sometimes men love women, sometimes men love men and there are bisexuals, though some say they are kidding themselves,” croons Phoebe.

4) The one with a different family setup


Anyone watching Friends would wish to have such a group to live with. The show has manifested that family should not always necessarily be bonded by blood, a social group where everyone supports and loves each other can be a family too. This is also a reason why the series is so beloved because it shows us what we really dream for a close group that we are always a part of, no matter how flawed we are.

5) The one with casual dates


The show also normalised the concept of casual dates, where Joey (Matt LeBlanc) doesn’t really settle with any relationship but chooses to go on dates with different women. Through this, the stereotypical view of the need for a life partner or to have a committed relationship is refined to be merely as a person's choice.

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