Ross became a wimp! Monica became a shrew! Chandler stopped being gay! And other reasons you said you stopped watching "Friends."

By Salon Staff

Published May 7, 2004 8:55PM (EDT)

[Read "Fair-weather 'Friends'" ]

Why did I stop watching "Friends"? Because I couldn't resist Sue Hawk yelling at people to "move your aaass." I jumped ship for "Survivor," but my viewing of "Friends" had only continued as long as it did for a lack of anything else to watch. And when "Survivor" started to suck (post-Australia), I still didn't go back to "Friends."

-- Brenda Fite

I gave up on "Friends" when the Ross character became whinier, mopier and dopier by the minute. Didn't the writers learn anything from the tragic example of Chrissy Snow in "Three's Company"? Go back to the first season of that series and you'll see that Suzanne Sommers' character actually has brains and is given sharp lines to deliver with a twinkle in her eye. But along the way, somebody at ABC sold her out to the giggle-and-jiggle set, and by the time Sommers left the show for good, Chrissy came off as borderline retarded. When I saw Ross heading in the same direction, I gave up on "Friends." I couldn't bear to watch the wacky-yet-tragic sequence unfold again in Sitcomville.

-- Patrick Donnelly

Eh... I'm one of those Americans that are size XXL. I got bugged by the portrayal of Monica as a fat chick. If one of those actors had actually grown up with a little meat on their bones -- maybe they'd understand. The best thing "Friends" has ever done is come up with Joey's "How YOU doin'?" Other than that, buh-bye. I will not miss the show.

-- Erin Wilson

"Friends" is an unrealistic portrayal of (now) 30-something kids in NYC. They live in what seem to be Upper West Side apartments hopping about from one prohibitively expensive habitation to the next, all the while with nary a glimpse of the New York that I know as a native. No people of color have appeared for more than a fleeting moment through the 10 years of its run. I understand their escapades play well, especially in Britain, where this ersatz perspective of America reaches an audience unfamiliar with the real thing.

-- Murray Grushka

Always happy to sacrifice character for the sake of a gag, "Friends" became Just Another Sitcom after about the second season. It's more than overstayed its welcome. Compare it to "Frasier," for example. This, too, has gone off the boil, especially since the disastrous decision to break the "Niles and Daphne must never get together" rule. However, the other rules (Frasier's love life must always be disastrous, we must never see Maris, Martin is always right in the end) have stuck, and that consistency of character is what makes it so superior to so many other TV shows.

With "Friends," though, sometimes Joey is suddenly incredibly smart for the sake of a gag, or Phoebe suddenly isn't ditzy. This isn't complex characterization -- the show isn't that clever, and these one-dimensional "characters" aren't that well drawn. It's a lack of respect for the audience and for the original concept of the show.

-- Chris Coates

I quit watching the show after Monica and Chandler were "discovered" dating by everyone else. It was right at this point that the show stopped going for laughs and started having "very special" episodes, which are the death knell for any sitcom. Too bad it had to toll for so long before the show finally went off the air. It's been truly painful to watch.

-- Sean Dowdall

I stopped watching at Monica and Chandler's wedding when someone was revealed to be pregnant. Spoilers indicated that it was Rachel. Putting 2 and 2 together, I came to the correct conclusion that Ross was the father before this fact was revealed. Ridiculous! I watched the episodes and saw the immense amount of time spent on R2's relationship and breakup and how bitter it was ("We were on a break!"). All that time spent on establishing the demise of a relationship just to have them get drunk and have sex didn't ring true. Was the act supposed to be because they were still passionate about one another? I can't stand any of my ex-boyfriends; I guess that makes a fictional character's character better than my own.

-- C. Irene Fuller

I gave up on "Friends" pretty early on. It was around the time that Ross and Rachel were breaking up and she wrote him that very long letter, which he fell asleep while reading. I probably would have done the same thing -- however, his weaseling about trying to make her believe he'd read it annoyed the crap out of me: "Just tell her you fell asleep, dammit!" And I was conflicted about who I wanted to slap more: Monica, for being such an uptight, controlling bitch, or the writers, for trading in her character for a cliché.

-- Jaz Tupelo

I lost interest when Monica and Chandler hooked up. After Ross and Rachael they had to have two more main characters get together? And then they turned Monica into an annoying shrew. You know that if Monica and Chandler split, he would never stare out a window, heartbroken, as rain falls outside, as he did when he split with Joey. He would run back to Joey in a heartbeat.

-- Greg Creamean

Thank god thank god thank god, I thought I was all alone in not watching "Friends." I thought it was only marginally funny and was shocked when dear friends, including my pot-smoking, long-haired, massage therapist ex-boyfriend in Portland, Ore., told me how much they liked it. However, I thought that the characters' self-absorption was one step above Ally McBeal's. The show should do well in reruns, seeing as there are no markers of which historical period it takes place in beyond the clothes. If the "Friends" are characteristic of their generation, please, I beg of you: Now that you've grown up, please go and at least register to vote this year.

-- Margaret Weigel

I quit watching "Friends" -- a show I found clever, funny, full of likable people in hilarious recognizable situations -- the moment I looked around "New York" and saw that nobody was of color -- like me. It bugged me and it bugged me more because I loved the show so much. My friends who weren't of color didn't understand, wanted me to rise above it, and thought I was cutting off my nose to spite my face. Good writing, they argued, shouldn't be held to such a petty stricture. My head agreed. But, oh, my heart broke. I tried to explain that it certainly is not incumbent upon television production to include main characters who looked like me, but it sure would be nice. And I know, I know, "nice" is not what the industry is known for but... My friends laughed at my naiveté. I looked into their RossRachelPhoebeChandlerMonicaJoey faces knowing they would never get it -- and would never have to. I sighed.

I know it's a criticism routinely leveled against "Friends." I don't know how those who level that criticism feel, but I just didn't like myself loving a view that didn't include people like me.

-- Sherlynn Hicks

I think the last time I saw a full, fresh episode of "Friends" was back in 1997. That was the year my wife and I started producing children, and sleep and sanity have become far more important than Must See TV. I can't say that I remember ANY full episodes, but I do remember scenes (in no particular order):

  • One condom between two couples (Rachel/Ross)(Monica/Tom Selleck)
  • Joey hiding in a box
  • smelly cat
  • London wedding
  • The rest is a blur.

    However, earlier that year, I had just taken a new job as a 3D animator for a cable TV show produced by Warner Bros.; hence I had access to the main lot. Of the "Friends" sightings at the gym, Matthew Perry and a pal were yukking it up in adjacent shower stalls about how late they were out partying the night before. I believe this was during his "skinny" period (say no more). I couldn't make out much more of the conversation, but did hear Perry singing, "She likes to party all the time, party all the time, party all the time."

    I saw Jennifer Aniston close up one time at the Warner gym as well. We were the only ones there. She had her nose in her daily planner, and I wouldn't think of going all star-struck on the lot. So all I could do was hop onto the treadmill right in front of her while she sat on the stationary bike behind me. All I could think of for days was that if she had looked up at all, she would have been treated to the studly vision of MY ass for the next 25 minutes. Side note: Jennifer Aniston has remarkably thin ankles.

    Lastly, since I had just started this new job, I was staying with some buddies who lived across the street from... David Schwimmer. Not that we saw him coming or going, but these are the adventures we are dealt.

    Side note 2: Saw Drew Carey in the commissary wearing short pants and a white undershirt, looking very much like your dad after mowing the Saturday lawn. He's a lot shorter and surprisingly thinner than you would expect.

    -- Scott Boyer

    For me, it was the episode when Joey wanted an acting role but found out he needed to have an identical twin for the part. So he picked up some random guy (who of course looked nothing like Joey) and tried to pass him off as his identical twin, and unhilarity ensued. I know Joey is dumb and that's supposed to be funny, but for the love of God, no one could possibly be THAT dumb. And for me, that's where it ended.

    -- Nicole Chavas

    How about the blatant laziness of forcing the characters to suddenly fall in love with each other every once in a while? Remember when Joey was in love with Rachel for, like, a year or something? Why the hell are we supposed to care if Rachel gets together with Ross? And are we seriously to believe that only Phoebe is capable of finding love outside the group? (Phoebe was always the best written and most well-adjusted character, in part because it always seemed like she knew other people and lived a life outside of that damn apartment.) "Friends" was always funniest when it was playing up its characters' flaws (Monica's obsessiveness, Ross' barely latent rage, Chandler's self-loathing, Joey's indulgences with sex and food, Phoebe's hostility, Rachel's materialism), but when it expected us to care who was sleeping with whom, it went flat. Ross and Rachel are the worst example of this, and the show was never worse than when they were harmoniously together in the second season. (Their breakup, however, was hysterical.)

    -- Robert Watson

    When Chandler got fat. Nothing more to say.

    -- Mike Farrell

    You know, I've NEVER watched even one episode of "Friends." Yet, I've never missed looking at Salon since the day it launched. Is this too much cognitive dissonance for the Salon staff to incorporate into its request for comments?

    -- Deven Werthman

    I was never a regular "Friends" watcher, but I stopped watching "Friends" permanently sometime in 2002. I came to the realization that I had just sat through an entire episode with a grimace on my face, frozen on the verge of laughter. The laugh never came, though, because the storyline wasn't even close to being funny. I couldn't relate to what these people on my TV were talking about, and my face hurt.

    And so, I quit trying to figure out what others saw in "Friends" and became a regular "Scrubs" fan instead. I may not work in a hospital, but "Scrubs" is genius enough to make me laugh anyway.

    -- Stevie Shea

    "Friends" turned unfunny sometime after Monica and Chandler got engaged. Really, how long can the Monica-as-clean-freak joke go on? Seems like when TV characters marry, their story arc ends and there's nothing left for them to do except become caricatures of their former, well-drawn selves. (The adoption story has limped along to a pretty predictable ending.)

    And, what about Ross? His dinosaur-obsessed science geek as Rachel-obsessed relationship freak was flat and actually creepy. I cringed when Rachel kissed him last week. No, they don't belong together anymore. The writers closed off that opportunity by stunting Ross' character and expanding hers.

    But even though I have no love for these "Friends" anymore, I'll still watch them say goodbye.

    -- Cheryl Taylor

    I gave up on "Friends" before the end of the first season, when I realized this was just another soap -- I had thought I was watching a sitcom -- and a boring one too.

    I started by simply ignoring it, but I came to detest it after a while, when I realized that many people I knew would actually leave in the middle of being sociable in Real Life™ to go home and watch TV people be sociable on "Friends"!

    -- Marit Halse

    I lost it with "Friends" after the third or fourth time Ross and Rachel collapsed into each other's arms in carnal passion. It's like watching your parents French kiss. They start out with those awful, clichéd, soulful stares of fake longing. David Schwimmer's eyes dampen; his face gets so droopy he looks like McGruff the Crime Dog. Jennifer Aniston gives her usual gaze of pathetic need -- surely honed back in her childhood days hanging around the set of "Days of Our Lives" -- but you can see in her eyes that she's thinking, "All right, now, Jen, you're paid very well for this; it'll be over soon." They move closer, ever so slowly, until suddenly they're running at each other like the big horned-sheep and that stoner kid butting heads in the Mountain Dew commercial.

    Every time Ross and Rachel make out, I get toxic flashbacks of Al Gore trying to extract Tipper's tonsils with his tongue at the 2000 Democratic Convention -- eewww. Must-gag TV. I'm sure if the writers and producers could have predicted a 10-year run they'd have made the world wait a little longer to see the geek get his dream girl, but ever since they went ahead and pulled the trigger, the Ross-Rachel storyline has been a big eye-roller.

    It doesn't help that we're forced to imagine a woman who goes to bed every night with Brad Pitt -- not a handsome yet relatively unthreatening second-tier celebrity like ex-beau and "Friends" guest-star Tate Donovan, but BRAD PITT, the world's hottest man, the guy who would make Adonis consider sending in a video application to "Extreme Makeover" -- falling (over, and over, and over again) for Ross Gellar, neurotic paleontologist with bullet-proof hair and a not-so-ambiguously suggestive relationship with a monkey. Pray God that the writers came up with a better story arc to go out on than "Will they or won't they." That dog quit huntin' a long time ago -- they should leave him under the porch.

    -- Ed Tarkington

    Salon Staff

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