The One Where ‘Friends’ Gets a Woke Update

With Friends fans in a frenzy after the reunion on HBO Max, we looked at what the show could be today if America's favorite sextet got a 21st-century upgrade.

The cast of Friends, reunited. (Photo: HBO Max)

The Friends reunion was so heavily trumpeted that the the event began to seem as momentous as the meeting at Yalta. But no, the HBO Max special was just six millionaires reminiscing about that time they became millionaires, along with a bunch of famous fans and a host of supporting actors from the original 10-season run (most of whom only seemed vaguely familiar to the core cast).

Based on the intense, relentless coverage, though, the prospect of a Friends reboot seems upsettingly possible. To get ahead of the game, we imagine the 2021 version of the famously problematic series. Take a look at six potential episodes below.

The One Where the Gang Makes a Politically Incorrect Remark
Actually, this could be the original series’ subtitle.

The One Where Joey Uses the Wrong Pronouns
Joey has trouble understanding the use of “they” to describe a single person. He keeps assuming there is a group of people that’s being referred to and looking around to try and find them. Phoebe helps him learn the correct usage, resulting in an update to his well-known catchphrase: “How they doin’?”

The One Where Rachel Experiments With Bisexuality
Chandler splits up with Janice. Again. Janice decides she’s through with men and wants to see what it’s like to be with a woman. Rachel says she’d be up for giving it a go, too. A series of misunderstandings leads to Ross mistakenly believing he’s going to be treated to a sex show from the new couple. But by the time he’s ready to watch, Janice and Rachel have already split up (after four hours), and Janice has moved in with another woman.

The One Where Gunther Comes Out
Gunther’s famous lack of success with Rachel—or any other woman, for that matter—is explained by the fact that he has a boyfriend and has been living a lie due to the gang’s near-constant casually homophobic jokes. There is no laugh track for this episode, which ends with the six attending a Pride march with Gunther.

The One with the Boys Versus the Girls
Monica issues a girls versus boys foosball game challenge. Someone overhears them talking about this in Central Perk and turns up at the apartment to picket the game, carrying a placard that reads “Fair Representation for All 254 Genders.” The remainder of the episode is a scrolling list of the 254 genders, with the title music changed to Sam Smith singing a non-gender specific version of “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” 

The One Where Friends Gets Canceled
An instant hit when it returns, nobody expects Friends to be canceled. And it isn’t! However, due to changing tastes in society, the reboot doesn’t have a single viewer outside of those who are happy to accept an all-white cast and “outdated” gender stereotypes. Which means the show still gets millions of viewers, but little press coverage.

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