What's the point of the fat shame

All children are watching friends, but it is no longer the day, week, month, or even year of that show

OPINION: To say the '90s are back is an absolute statement of fact at this point. With their bias-cut satin skirts, ribbed T-shirts with scallop sleeves and Dr. Marten nowadays, every 20-year-old on the street is dressed as if it were my fourth Mufti day again.

With fashion came a revival of television in the 90s. Unexplained mysteries was restarted, The nanny is streamed in its entirety on TVNZ, but that doesn't even really matter: just like in my fourth grade, all the kids are watching Friends.

The landmark '90s sitcom is one of the most watched shows worldwide on Netflix. Cotton On wears not just one but two types of Friends T-shirt, while The Warehouse has a fetching Central Perk design.

Fashion may be cyclical, but social attitudes are usually not. If there's anything the last 12 months have shown us - aside from the germicidal value of hand washing - it's attitudes change.

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And Friendslaunched 26 years ago is full of gags that may have been weird in 1994 but feel very inappropriate in 2020.

For today's teenagers and especially 20 year olds who are watching Friends For the first time, it may not be innocent nostalgia that we oldies imagine.

First there is the fat shame.

A running joke Friends'10 seasons is that Monica was overweight as a kid and teenager. Monica is often annoyed about this, especially by her older brother Ross, but worse, she is physically provoked in four episodes in which the very slender actress Courteney Cox dons a thick suit.

In all cases, Monica's obese alter ego is referred to as "Fat Monica".

Fat Monica only exists as a punch line. She performs all the duties ever assigned to a fat person, and especially a fat woman, and absolutely nothing else: she often eats unhealthy foods, speaks with her mouth full, or almost breaks pieces of furniture.

In an episode (actually a two-parter in season six) that takes place in an alternate future where Monica has never lost weight, she is the last in her group to lose her virginity because obviously no one could find a fat woman attractive.

But in the show's current timeline, Monica has lost weight. The only reason is because she overheard Chandler and then her crush and expressed his disgust at the way she looked.

This is a confusing message at best for teenagers who are the ages of Lizzo, Tess Holliday, Cardi B and Shrilland body positivity movement in general.

There is a lot of homophobia and transphobia Friends, to.

The transphobia comes courtesy of Chandler's father, a transgender woman who appears under the name on a drag show in Las Vegas. I am sorry to tell you, Helena Handbasket.

The gang's relentless mockery of this character (played by Kathleen Turner in a role she said she would turn down today) is reflected in storylines such as Ross' horror at finding his son Ben playing with dolls, or marrying a woman because of his squeamishness towards his ex-wife or when Joey is ridiculed for carrying a shoulder bag.

Meanwhile, in another recurring joke, the gang suggests that Chandler might be gay, with the underlying assumption that it would be something to be ashamed of.

There are many other examples of this, like “The One With the Nap Partners,” in which Ross and Joey are horrified to find they fell asleep on the couch together.

What's more Friends is a total whitewash. Not only are the six main characters all white, there are only two colored characters of significance throughout the run of the 236 episode series. Two.

Friends is certainly not alone in promoting attitudes that are now viewed as unsavory. Like pretty much any television show, it's a reflection of its time - something that's especially true for sitcoms that require a steady stream of easy-to-digest gags.

But few shows have the cultural resurgence that is out there Friends is enjoying now, nearly three decades after it first graced our screens.

There is no need to attack it or hold it responsible for its values, but it is worth being critical, especially when young people are watching.

In this case we can find that Friends is not so much the babydoll dress as the ornate collar: a piece of fashion from the 90s that we may find amusing in its original context, but which we really don't have to adopt today.