We have an official trailer for the Friends reunion.
I’m going to prefix what I’m about to say with the following…
Was I a fan of the show? Yes
Am I a Friends super-fan? No
Will I watch the reunion? Nostalgically, probably
Since the announcement of a reunion I’ve noticed a lot of queer hate towards the 90s cult sitcom online and to be honest I completely understand every bit of it. Its LGBT+ representation was, at times, either poor or non-existent.
Certain storylines (the whole ‘manny’ fiasco, Chandler’s Dad, the list goes on…) were absolutely problematic, and elements of the cult 90s sitcom have – like many of its counterparts – not aged enviably.
That all being said, as a gay man in his 30s, I LOVED Friends growing up. So did a lot of my gay and queer friends. If you clicked on this then, presumably, it’s to watch the trailer because maybe you did too. You probably weren’t expecting an essay but hey, some things just need to be said.
The sad fact is that it was, for the most part, just a sign of the times. Most television output at the time ignored, ridiculed, side-lined or patronised LGBT+ people in one form or another and let’s face it, growing up gay was utterly shit back then and beyond. We were not gifted your Elite‘s or your Drag Race‘s etc etc and it didn’t end in the 90’s, many still-cult shows that came after were not gleaming examples of queer representation.
HOWEVER… what Friends did represent, why it managed to retain a huge queer fan base back then and still now, was unity. Friendship. Silliness. Love. A family outside of your family. The family you choose, rather than the one you’re born into. The notion that if you’re lonely now, one day you’ll grow up and have a hilariously foolish life with people who will be there for you, no matter what (when the rain starts to fall). And those are all some pretty queer qualities if you ask me.
Did you know that another problematic installation of the 90s was that liking friends was considered “gay” by many guys? I totally forgot until writing this but at school I used to play down how much I enjoyed the show because the other boys would bully you for watching “a girls show”.
The sad fact is that Friends were friends for a lot of queer kids – like myself – who didn’t have many real ones because we were raging homosexuals in the making.
In short, history is problematic. Friends is a TV show. And it definitely wasn’t the only or worst offender in the 90s. If the reunion in 2021 is a troublesome shit-show of representation then let’s absolutely have at it, but let’s not hate on something for just being what it was in a moment.
I said some pretty not gay-friendly stuff myself back in the 90’s and now look at me… gay as fu*k. So for anyone hating on a Friends reunion for clout, to coin a popular internet phrase, this is why we can’t have nice things.
Friends: The Reunion will air on HBO Max on May 27. All the cast return INCLUDING the likes of Janice, Jack and Judy, Gunther and Jill (Reese Witherspoon).
Celebrity guests will feature the likes of David Beckham, Lady Gaga, BTS, Cara Delevingne, Mindy Kaling, James Corden, Malala Yousafzai and Justin Bieber.
Here’s the trailer: