The three ‘Friends’ episodes the creator regretted making
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The three 'Friends' episodes the creator regretted making

Even though it’s been two decades since the 236th and final episode aired in May 2004, Friends remains one of the most popular sitcoms on the planet, a testament to the seemingly eternal longevity set to be enjoyed by the Central Perk six.

Launching the careers of Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, and Matthew Perry to new heights, Friends became so monolithic that it doesn’t matter what any of them have or will accomplish throughout the remainder of their time in the entertainment business, they’ll always be best known as Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Joey, and Chandler.

However, younger generations discovering Friends for the first time on streaming haven’t been quite as easily won over, with many pointing out that certain aspects of the show haven’t aged particularly gracefully. While that’s to be expected for a comedy that first premiered in 1994, even the creators have voiced their regrets over recurring gags and storylines that don’t stand up under 21st-century scrutiny.

The most obvious and widely denigrated is the constant misgendering of Kathleen Turner’s character, who was repeatedly referred to as Chandler’s father, Chandler’s dad, or occasionally Charles Bing. There’s even an episode called ‘The One with Chandler’s Dad’, leading co-creator Marta Kauffman to admit that she’d change her approach were Friends made today.

“I think we didn’t have the knowledge about transgender people back then, so I’m not sure if we used the right terms,” she said to USA Today. “I don’t know if I would have known those terms back then. I think that’s the biggest one”.

Another personal point of contention is ‘The One with the Jam’, where Phoebe ends up dating her twin sister Ursula’s stalker. It’s hardly the sort of setup that lends itself to bursts of hilarity given the troublesome nature of a character dating a person who harbours an obsessive infatuation for someone who looks just like them, but despite offering that “we did a lot of rewriting on that to make it work,” Kauffman doesn’t view it as one of her prized memories from Friends.

The live studio audience and viewers at home may have gone wild when Aniston’s then-husband Brad Pitt swung by as Ross’ former high school buddy Will Colbert in ‘The One with the Rumor’, but Kauffman once again regrets the approach to gender identity that led her to brand the episode as a “period piece” reflective of its 1990s setting.

“I might not have done the hermaphrodite stuff today if I had that to do over in the one with Brad Pitt,” Kauffman offered, with one of the episode’s main jokes revolving around the whispers spread around the entirety of the state by Will and Ross that Rachel had both male and female reproductive parts. A child of its time, then, but not one without regrets on the part of those responsible for Friends.