Lessons from ’90s sitcom ‘Friends’ for the woke generation | Inquirer Lifestyle
“Friends” characters Ross Geller, Monica Geller, Chandler Bing, Rachel Green, Joey Tribbiani and Phoebe Buffay —ARTWORKS BY JULIAN REANTASO

Lessons from ’90s sitcom ‘Friends’ for the woke generation

Some jokes and themes didn’t age well, but there are things that stand the test of time

“Friends” characters Ross Geller, Monica Geller, Chandler Bing, Rachel Green, Joey Tribbiani and Phoebe Buffay —ARTWORKS BY JULIAN REANTASO


In 1994, American television sitcom “Friends” went on air and captured the hearts of young adults worldwide. For 10 seasons, until 2004, the show made viewers laugh, cry, angry and fall in love.

The popular series had a renaissance recently when streaming service Netflix aired it again. Apparently the “Friends” audience has widened—even Generation Z has been watching.

But in a politically correct world and to a woke generation, some themes of the series have become unacceptable—
and young viewers took to social media to express their dislike.

Joey’s promiscuity, Chandler’s homophobia, Ross’ toxic masculinity and the fat-shaming of Monica were recurring themes that are not appreciated by viewers today. Such jokes didn’t age well.

Despite these, there are lessons from “Friends” that stand the test of time.


Joey Tribbiani teaches us that relationships come and go, but friendships are forever. He tries to accept Chandler’s on-off girlfriend Janice even as she drives Joey nuts. He even keeps Chandler and Monica’s relationship a secret from everybody so they can date in peace. Joey, as a friend, is worth emulating.

For Phoebe Buffay, it’s okay to be different. Her mother dies and her father abandons her. She’s estranged from her twin sister and has to fend for herself for most of her life.

Phoebe never apologizes for the things that her friends find weird about her. She embraces her quirks and is sunshine personified to the people around her. In a world where most people are negative, people like Phoebe are hard to find.

Monica Geller shows us how to be kind at all times. When Rachel backs out of her wedding and needs a place to stay, Monica takes her in. Monica is the ideal hostess, with the gang always hanging out in her apartment, where there’s a steady supply of food.

Choosing to be kind

When her own mother does not show her affection, Monica still tries to be a good daughter. People will always have a reason to be mean, but, like Monica, we can always choose to be kind.

Chandler Bing shows us that it’s fine to be vulnerable. When his parents get divorced, he starts telling jokes and becomes sarcastic as a defense mechanism. He’s estranged from his father, and he dislikes his mother for her overt sexuality.

When he finds his true love in Monica, Chandler embraces maturity. He learns to forgive his father and mother, and becomes a good husband and father. He drops his defenses, but he’s more loved by just being himself.

Like Chandler, be true to yourself, and never try to impress others just to be loved.

Rachel Green demonstrates how to take a leap of faith. She could have had an easy life had she married Barry, who had a good job and could have provided for her. Instead, she follows her heart and runs off to find independence.

Rachel is a spoiled little rich girl who lives off her father’s wealth. When she moves to the city, she has to find a job and starts at the bottom. Her persistence lands her an executive position at a top fashion company. She takes a chance that’s worth it.

Ross Geller is an example of pursuing one’s passions. When Ross talks about his job as a paleontologist, his friends zone out and lose interest. But Ross doesn’t mind, because he’s successful in his career and he loves his job which doesn’t feel like work.

If you’ve never seen “Friends” but you’re prejudging it based on the outdated jokes and themes you’ve read about, do yourself a favor. Peel back all the layers, and take the good that you can get. —CONTRIBUTED