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Why I stopped watching Friends

I was 24 years old when the show Friends debuted on TV; about the same age as the characters in the show. Their lives - the ups and downs of getting started in a career, friendships, and dating relationships resonated with me as I was navigating all those parts of my life. 

By the time it ended, I was in my thirties, married with a child and another one on the way. Monica and Chandler had just had twins and were moving to the suburbs to raise their family. I felt like I’d grown up with these six friends and was sad to see the show end.

When Matthew Perry passed away in October 2023, reels of Friends started popping up on my Facebook feed. I’d watch a clip, laugh, and want to know what else happened in the episode. Eventually, I found a streaming channel and started watching the re-runs.

Parts of the show I enjoyed and often found myself laughing out loud. I was drawn to it to unwind at the end of the day.

But there were other parts I didn’t like – such as:

  • Using God’s name in vain (watching the reruns I was surprised at how many episodes the characters proclaim “Oh my God”).

  • The characters are often focused on dating relationships. And they define themselves as their best or their best life when in a relationship. While it's natural to want to be in a relationship, it shouldn't be what defines us, but compliments our life.

  • How often they talk about or watch porn. I remembered it had been part of a few episodes and didn’t like it, but I was surprised at just how many episodes it was in. The show normalized porn, but it’s not part of healthy relationships. Porn has destroyed marriages and spurred the sex trafficking industry. :(

  • How fast they are to move to physical intimacy in a relationship (often on the first date). As Monica and Chandler’s wedding date gets closer, there’s an episode where Monica is upset she’ll never have a first kiss or have sex with anyone else ever again. Chandler is looking forward to only being with one person for the rest of his life and calms Monica down. It made me sad that rather than looking ahead, she was upset about what she might be giving up. God designed us for one partner. Husband and wife to be monogamous.

I debated on if Friends was a show I should be watching. I didn’t feel good watching something opposite to my values and a pang of guilt each time they used God’s name in vain. In the book, It Doesn’t Start with a Punch, I wrote a section about how what we watch on TV can influence us and lower our values. But I appreciated the easy laugh Friends provided at the end of the day, so I tried to reason with myself by saying, “There are worse things I could be watching.” Or, “I know what’s important to me, I won’t be influenced.”

Then a reel came up on my Facebook feed from an episode where Phoebe meets Mike. As they begin dating, Ross meets Mike and puts his foot in his mouth about Phoebe’s previous relationships, and then when he tries to fix it, he fumbles some more. He goes to Phoebe’s apartment to let her know and during the conversation, she says, “If you hadn’t just had a baby with my best friend, I swear to Lucifer a rabid dog would be feasting on your danglers right now”.

Wow! I’ve never heard anyone even mention swearing to the devil before. She’s trying to convey she’s upset, but there are so many other ways to express her feelings. I closed Facebook and turned away from Friends. It wasn’t a show I wanted to support or watch.

A few days later I was listening to an episode on Focus on the Family (FOTF), Becoming Screen Savy as a Family. As Jim Daly, John Fuller, and guests from Plugged In discuss turning away from shows or movies they know aren’t good for their kids I was glad I chose to turn away from Friends.

To learn more, I hope you’ll listen to the FOTF episode or read the second section of the book, It Doesn’t Start with a Punch.

If you’re looking for something good to watch for you or your family, some of my favorites are:

  • The movie series, Love Comes Softly

  • Full House (the original series, available in Box set on Amazon)

  • Apollo 13

  • Greater

  • The Blindside

  • Remember the Titans

  • Radio

  • Gifted Hands

  • The War Room

  • The Shack

  • Fallen Angle

  • Fuller House


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