How TV shows like Friends represented my family life growing up 4 months ago

How TV shows like Friends represented my family life growing up

Representation of minority groups has became more of a priority over the last few years.

There are now countless TV shows that represent people from all different races, backgrounds and sexualities and it's something that we should celebrate.

Advertisement

When I was growing up my family dynamic wasn't the same as most children that I knew, but there were some TV shows, like Friends, that represented families like mine.

I don't even think I realised how much shows like Friends or films like The Birdcage resonated with me until I watched them again as an adult.

There were lots of TV shows and films about divorced families in the 1990s, but very few where one or more of the parents were gay.

Friends' Carol, Susan and Ross storyline, while not exactly like my parent's relationship, was pretty close to it and definitely the closest thing to representation when it came to my upbringing.

My parents were 18 when I was born and broke up when I was a baby. My dad went on to have another partner whom he had my brother and sister with, while my mother began to have a relationship with her first girlfriend, whom she dated for most of my childhood.

Advertisement

Seeing another child on TV who was being raised the same way that I was made me feel the same as everybody else. It made me realise that there were other families like mine.

Friends has received some criticism over the years - particularly after it arrived on Netflix - with many calling out some of the outdated storylines, homophobia, transphobia, and others - but in a lot of other ways, the show was ahead of its time.

As well as featuring children like Ben who had a gay mother, they also addressed issues like adoption and surrogacy, storylines I had never seenĀ  on TV, or at least, not in so much detail.

Alternative families were a huge part of the show. As well as the children who were born into the show, the main characters also had different family dynamics.

Advertisement

Chandler's dad was gay and a drag queen and Phoebe was adopted and spent a large part of her life living with her grandmother after her mother passed away.

While a lot of these details were brought up in light or humorous ways, they did give representation to a lot of children growing up in blended or non-traditional families.

I don't know if representing families like mine was the goal when FriendsĀ first aired, they were probably just storylines that the writers thought would be interesting, but nevertheless they did help me feel included when I was growing up.

Saying that, I don't agree with all of their storylines - I don't know what the writers were thinking when they put Rachel and Joey together. We probably could have done without that one.

Advertisement