For ten seasons, Friends was the most popular sitcom on TV. It told the story of six friends living in New York as they go through life, growing up, finding love, having babies and dealing with everything that life throws at them, all the while doing it with great laughs and drinking lots and lots of coffee. The lives of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey, and Ross had the world hooked every week as we tuned in to what our Friends were up to.
Even though the show ended years ago, Friends is still one of the most loved and popular sitcoms there has ever been, so much so that fans are constantly begging for the show to return to our screens and that Friends will be part of our lives once more. However, because of continuous repeats, you can actually turn the TV on at any time on any day and Friends will be on somewhere. The show hasn’t really lasted the test of time and most of the storylines and jokes now feel really dated. With that in mind here are 15 things about everyone’s favorite sitcom that really date it.
15. The One Where Everyone Loves Pottery Barn
Because most of the seasons of Friends took place in the 1990s, a lot of the references and jokes are very much of the time and our first entry on this list is one of those references. So Pottery Barn may well still be going strong to this day and many people buy stuff from them and are fans of the furniture store, but having an entire episode dedicated to this upscale furniture store is very much a thing of the 90s or early 2000s.
Most people today have definitely watched this episode. Rachel buys some new furniture and pretends to Phoebe that it’s old and authentic when in fact it’s from Pottery Barn. Ross has a nice big rant about Phoebe’s hatred of Pottery Barn and no one hates Pottery Barn. Of course they don’t hate Pottery Barn theses days, everyone just goes to Ikea.
14. The One Where Everyone’s Excited For Hootie And The Blowfish
Another very 90s reference with our next entry and if any kids are watching Friends today they may ask themselves two questions: Who are Hootie and the Blowfish and why is everyone so excited about them? The first answer is simple. For those of you out there that are unaware of Hootie and the Blowfish, then they were a rock band in the late 80s and early 90s that had a few hits and were fairly popular for a few years.
The second question however is a bit more tricky to answer. We have no idea why everyone is so excited to have tickets to see Hootie and the Blowfish. Not only does this reference and storyline date Friends but it also defies any reasoning about taste as we don’t think anyone has ever gotten this excited about Hootie and the Blowfish.
13. The One With Stocks And Shares Info On TV
For all of us out there that are over the age of 35 or so, we will all remember the times when you had to get information off of the TV. Whether it was the weather report, the news, or the stock market, before the Internet, the TV was the best place to get this information. To many of us this time doesn’t seem that long ago but to today’s generation, the thought of checking things on the TV is bizarre and weird to them.
This happens a lot on Friends, especially in the early seasons. The episode in particular is when Monica decides to “play” the markets and have a little fun investing some money. Of course, she stays glued to the TV screen so she can keep up to date with the latest market news. No going out and about while having notifications on your phone for Monica. No, she had to stay inside and watch the market on her TV.
12. The One With The Infomercials
Speaking of the magic of TV during the 90s, another thing that many people did was actually buy things from TV. Informercials were a big business and many people would buy all kinds of things from their TVs. The land of Friends was no different and Monica in particular would buy all sorts of things from watching infomercials, from cleaning products to Joey’s milk carton aid.
Now, we’re not saying that infomercials and TV shopping isn’t a thing anymore, because it is and the likes of QVC are still going strong, but for the younger generation, particularly the twenty-somethings which the characters on Friends started out as, the thought of them buying products from the TV is crazy when you can just shop online for anything.
11. The One With Jean Claude Van Damme
Over the years, Friends played host to many guest stars and most of them are still popular or appreciated today. The likes of George Clooney, Robin Williams, Brad Pitt, Billy Crystal, Julia Roberts, the list could go on and on. Although we don’t want to single out any one celebrity guest star, the fact that an entire episode was pretty much devoted to Jean Claude Van Damme, dates Friends more than most things.
Not only is it difficult for this generation to see Jean Claude Van Damme as the action superstar that he was, but as a sex symbol? The fact that Monica would do anything to even get close to Van Damme dates Friends a lot and considering that Julia Roberts was in the same episode, it’s funny how careers turn out. But The Muscles from Brussels was already starting his career slide when this episode aired.
10. The One With The Answering Machine Message
Most of us will remember the days in which the landline was the most important thing to us. Throughout the 90s, and in fact the many decades before that, most of us were glued to the home phone, waiting inside for the phone to ring and not being able to leave the house in case we missed that all important phone call. It’s difficult for this generation to appreciate the simpler times as not only are we never away from our phones now, no matter where we are, but do people even call anymore?
The best thing about having a landline back in the day was the answering machine message. The episode in which Ross moves in with Chandler and Joey plays to this brilliantly as he records his own goofy message on their answering machines. It may be silly, fun, and entertaining but that very act dates this show by many many years.
9. The One With The Beeper
Speaking of Ross and his use, and love, of outdated technology, we all remember his love and constant use of his beeper. Being an important museum doctor at the time, no, we’re not sure why that would need a beeper either! But for some reason, apart from when his ex wife was about to have his baby, Ross always seemed as if he needed to be reached for something important at all hours of the day.
Not only is that strange but the very notion of having a beeper, unless you worked in a hospital, is very dated. For those of you who don’t know what a beeper, or pager, is then basically someone would call a number, leave a message and then the beeper would go off telling you to call that person back. Not only is this technology dated by today’s standards but also at the time, as cell phones were a big thing. Yes they were expensive back then but Ross always seemed to have money so why wouldn’t he have a cell phone?
8. The One Where Baywatch Is Considered “Risque”
Aww, Joey and Chandler. When Friends first started Joey and Chandler were the typical twenty-something men. They hung out together, drank beer, talked about women and basically acted like frat boys, which let’s be honest, wasn’t just good for comedy purposes but it’s how most men that age acted, and still do.
The epitome of their “frat boy” lifestyle was watching sexy women. Of course it would be but the fact that they used to get their kicks from watching Baywatch is very dated. The two of them would get way too excited when Baywatch would start, especially the slow motion running, and to be fair, Baywatch was what young adolescents watched to get their kicks not full grown men.
7. The One With The Free “Adult” Channel
Speaking of Chandler and Joey on the prowl for some naughty naked women fun, the episode in which their TV gets access to a free porn channel is pretty laughable today, and not laughable in a good way. The boys have switched apartments with the girls and to their surprise, they turn on the TV and free porn is on. They do everything they can in order to make sure that the porn stays there; they don’t change channel or turn the TV off as this is something rare and exciting to them.
Of course, the notion of adults getting excited about free porn on their TV these days is very dated and silly, especially as most people use the Internet for anything they want. But even at the time this episode went on air the Internet in particular was readily available, and let’s be honest about 90% porn. So having a whole episode about a free porn channel is very dated.
6. The One Where They All Have VHS Tapes
Most of us remember the VHS as the big, clunky brick like tape in which we used to watch movies. Not only did we used to watch movies that way but we used to rent them too in a magical building that let you borrow VHS’s for money and then we would take them back, once we’d rewound the tapes first of course.
The funny thing about Friends is that they used VHS tapes right up until the show ended, which was in 2004! Ok, so downloads and other such streaming technologies may well have been still finding their feet at that stage but DVDs had replaced VHS’s a long time ago and video rental shops had all but gone out of business, except for the world of Friends that is who still insisted on using the old and outdated VHS right up until the end.
5. The One Where No One Ever Has A Cell Phone
As we’ve already mentioned on this list, because the bulk of Friends was in the 90s, a lot of the technologies of the day are severely dated by today’s standards and the biggest contender for the one thing that really dates Friends the most is that for most of its run none of the main characters owned a cell phone. In fact, many episodes were dedicated to one of the characters being on the phone a lot or needing to get hold of someone but couldn’t because they were out or away from a phone. Not only did they not have cell phones but the cast of Friends also used something which many of today’s generation didn’t know existed and that’s a public phone booth.
No, we’re not talking about Doctor Who‘s TARDIS, but if you were out in the streets and needed to call someone then you could use a magical phone in the streets to do so. Watching Friends without cell phones is like looking into a mirror of simpler times. It may be crazy for the younger generation to realize how we all used to live before cell phones.
4. The One Where Chandler Is Excited By A Laptop
Over the last ten years or so, technology has advanced so much that everything that came before it is instantly dated and looks old. Unfortunately Friends suffers for this a lot. Because of the time in which Friends was on the air, every week seemed to bring a new piece of technology or advancements that it was difficult for a show like Friends to keep up with it and because of that, when we watch the show back now it not only looks dated but it just shows how off the ball Friends was with trends.
If you want to really understand how bad this is, then check out the episode in which Chandler gets a laptop. he’s not only excited by this but he’s also already out of date as the information he rambles off about his laptop is already behind the times. We honestly can’t remember when having ‘”spreadsheet capabilities” was a big selling point for laptops!
3. The One Where No One Else Owns A Computer For Ages
Speaking of Chandler’s love for his already outdated laptop, our next entry is not only a point that dates Friends but also is one of those really annoying things that the show did a lot and we really don’t know why. The fact is that Friends was very much seen as the show of its time and a mirror into the generation of the time. But it really wasn’t. Friends lived in its own bubble in which nothing from the outside world could penetrate and six people essentially hung out together in the most unrealistic way. Ok, so it was a sitcom and not a real life drama, but still, you’d think the writers would want to connect with the audience?
The biggest thing that they did was that for most of the run of Friends, no one had a computer. There would be the odd episode in which one of the Friends would play with a laptop but considering these people were the generation that were in charge of , well, everything, not one of them owned a computer. It may seem like a silly thing but the show seemed to go out of its way to date itself and keep itself separate from the world.
2. The One With Everyone’s Disastrous Fashion Tastes
The number two entry on our list of things that date Friends is their dreadful fashion sense. It’s true that the 90s, especially the early 90s, seemed to be fashion blind but the Friends carried this all the way through their seasons. If we look back at the first few seasons of Friends, not only do we laugh at how dated they all look but we cringe at the sight of them.
The overly gelled hair, the tight, tight pants, and then the baggy ones. The loose fitting shirts and the vest, and this is just Ross we are talking about! Watching those early seasons of Friends is amazing to us because most of the Friends, the women more than the men, became style icons for the time. So it’s sad to say that we were all guilty of dressing like that and we quickly want to forget our dated fashion sense.
1. The One Where The Show Itself Is Dated
The number one entry on our list of things that really date Friends is the show itself. Not only does the look and the feel of the show, like the fashion trends and even the camera shots, being before HD of course, but the very nature and content of the show is extremely dated. Yes, the jokes and situations may well seem a bit dated and cheesy by today’s standards especially when sitcoms today seem to push the boundaries by being more grounded, gritty, and realistic, but it’s more than that.
Friends is offensive. Even for its time, Friends was the whitest show on TV. Everyone is middle class, yes even Phoebe who may have had a hard life but she does a few massages and can afford an apartment in New York! Fat people are bad, the countless jokes about Monica being fat as a child, Rachel’s character had a nose job when she was a teenager because ugliness is wrong, and sexuality is a constant source of cringey jokes, like everyone always thinking Chandler is gay. The fact is that if Friends were to start today, it wouldn’t be nearly as popular in the more open-minded society we live in today.