The Meaning Of ’90s Sitcoms, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 28 2015 @ 7:34am

Readers keep the thread going:

In discussing how the sitcom Friends dealt with homosexuality, it is important to note Episode 11 of Season 2, which was titled “The One With The Lesbian Wedding”. It’s funny that even though it was 1996 there was no mention of “commitment ceremonies” or “domestic partnerships”. It was a wedding, plain and simple, no questions asked.

A few more readers delve deeper into that episode and others:

Yes, Chandler at times goes too far in some of his jokes and comments – and actual living.  But he also has an incredibly endearing relationship with Joey that he is never afraid to express – largely through hugs, but also through actual words. Their love may not be sexual, but it is real, and unconditional – a bromance not really rivaled until JD and Turk on Scrubs. I know it’s not the same – but Friends does show a tight, healthy friendship between two guys without fear of homophobic reactions. And Chandler continues to evolve, especially after he gets married, embracing his less-than-“manly” side and not making the same kind of jokes.

Also, Friends was the show that featured a gay wedding – and did not play it for laughs.

Ross even had to talk this former wife into going through with the ceremony after her parents didn’t support it.  And then, he walked her down the aisle.  Yes, Phoebe did have one laugh line during the ceremony, and yes, Chandler also has his comment, but the relationship was presented as real and loving throughout the entire series. Carol and Susan raised Ben (based on the number of scenes Ben was in with Ross, we can only assume that Carol and Susan had main custody), and that was never, ever brought up as a bad or weird or odd thing.  It just was.  The harshest comments about Carol and Susan came with a jealous Ross who was still in love with Carol.  But, again, he’s the one who convinced her to go through with the ceremony.

Watch a great moment with Susan and Ross above. Another reader:

Friends put forward a “new” type of family long before Modern Family was a gleam in anyone’s eye. It showed Ross as being hurt and confused, but ultimately loving and respectful. It showed incredible sympathy for Carol, who was clearly understanding of the pain she caused Ross, but also confident and free. AND, most importantly, it showed sympathy and respect for Susan, who could have easily been portrayed as the lesbian homewrecker. All of this in 1994 – you know, the same year President Clinton was fighting to make the military safe from gay men and women coming out of the closet.

So yeah, Chandler and Joey make a few jokes (anyone who honestly thinks these two were written as models for how men should behave should really step away from their TVs for a while). And maybe we shake our heads at them now, the same way we do Eddie Murphy routines, Mel Gibson movies, and countless others. But to write that piece with no acknowledgement whatsoever about what Friends did in showing gay characters at a time when it was not as safe (or profitable) to do so, is just wrong.

Another notes about one of the creators of Friends:

I personally know David Crane.  He is an out, proud gay man, and always has been.  I met him BEFORE Friends was created. That show is homophobic? Bullshit.