TV

Friends' Cringiest Scene Proving the Show Didn't Age Well

Image credit: Legion-Media

Some of the 20th century's most popular television shows haven't aged very well – and Friends is one of them. When the sitcom ended in 2004, it was still one of the most watched shows in the U.S. and beyond. Now that a younger audience is getting to watch the show for the first time, its problematic content is being highlighted.

Throughout the series, Friends has been criticized for homophobia – especially when Chandler wants to know why people believe him to be gay. There's also the frequent punchline about his father being a drag queen. The lesbianism of Ross's first wife is sensationalized, yet Ross struggles to accept that his own son wants to play with dolls.

Besides these plotlines, many have also pointed out the lack of diversity in the show. The protagonists and the majority of characters we see are good-looking, white people. In fact, a lot of fun is made out of Monica being 'fat' in the past.

What is the cringiest Friends scene that hasn't aged well?

In the show's final season, the thirteenth episode was called "The One Where Joey Speaks French". It's this episode that has now had many broadcasters delete a certain part of the scenes to avoid offending people.

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During the episode, it appears that Joey has lied on his CV and has said he can speak French. Panicking, he gets Phoebe (who is fluent in the language) to try and teach him. However, this doesn't go well, and Joey simply makes sounds that have no meaning. After trying and failing to teach Joey anything, Phoebe quits.

At Joey's audition, Phoebe shows up. She explains to the director in fluent French that Joey is her younger brother and he's mentally disabled. The director doesn't give Joey the part but congratulates him on his French. Joey is left happy and together with Phoebe, he removes all of the fake skills from his resume – including horseback riding, archery, and tap dancing.

Here is the script of the scene:

Phoebe: Écoutez, je vais vous dire la vérité. C'est mon petit frère. Il est un peu retardé. (Translation: Listen, I will tell you the truth. He's my little brother. He's a bit retarded.)

Phoebe: Alors, si vous pouviez jouer le jeu avec lui... (Translation: So, would you please just humor him?)

Director: (to Joey) Good job, little buddy. That was some really good French. But I think we're gonna go with someone else for the part.

So, what's the problem?

The problem in this scene is that Phoebe describes Joey as being "un peu retardé," which translates as "a bit retarded." Recently, reruns have had the subtitles changed not include this section (although for any French speakers, the audio is still there).

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As you can imagine, any young person nowadays would, quite rightly, be offended by the use of that word. However, back in the early 2000s, it wasn't such a problematic thing.

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