Rewatching old TV series is kind of a hobby of mine. One of the first times I ever did this, aged 30, it was the first two seasons of Ally McBeal, I actually went out and got hold of the DVD somehow, and I was just totally and utterly dumbstruck at how misogynist the show was and also how fucking annoyed Ally made me, like I wanted to kick her in the head, and she was that thin, one kick would’ve fucking killed her. Why the fuck did Renée put up with her? All she ever did was roll her eyes tiredly but lovingly because Ally was being the most fucking annoying bitch who has ever lived in the entire world. I was horrified, to be honest, I thought to myself: no wonder I am such a screwed up fucked up loser with so much self-hate if I watched this as a teenager and never noticed that it is basically misogyny-propaganda.
Or Dawson’s Creek. I rewatched Dawson’s Creek recently and fucking hell IT WAS BORING. Life must’ve been really boring in the 90s, I used to stay in to watch that shit. And why was Dawson so ugly? I think it is fine putting ugly people on television but it is a bit mean when all three of your co-stars are just clit-achingly gorgeous.
Or like for example, this last summer, pumping breast milk, which, by the way, someone should tell porno producers about, it is basically one of the most painful and humiliating experiences a woman can have, why isn’t it a category in PornHub yet, I rewatched Neighbours and Home & Away clips. I’d read that you need to get your oxytocin pumping in order to extract even 1ml of breast milk and of course being attached to this humiliating breast-pump device isn’t the easiest way to get your oxytocin pumping. I know, I thought, I’ll watch Neighbours and Home & Away. BIG MISTAKE. They’re really fucking depressing. In my head, they are orange and golden and sunny and sweet and Eastenders is cold and grey and bleak and full of tragedy and suicide but rewatching the Aussie soaps last summer, I found them a bit depressing, to be honest, so God only knows what vintage Eastenders is like.
It’s a bit wrong to talk about me „re“watching Friends in the same way, because, although I saw almost every episode up to Chandler and Monica fucking in London, I never really watched it that religiously to begin with. My mum was the Friends fan in our house. My mum LOVED Friends. More specifically, she loved Ross. Friends used to be shown on Wednesdays in the UK and my auntie would come over and the two of them would letch after Ross. My stepdad was AFFRONTED by Friends. My stepdad liked sitcoms like Steptoe and Son or Rising Damp, I think the dirtiest sitcom he’d watched up to this point was maybe Roseanne? He was affronted. He’d say in this dark tone of voice: „I am not going to sit here and watch six good-looking, well-off, white Americans sitting round drinking coffee all day.“ My mum used to try and get him to watch it by trilling the following fact at him: „Actually, you know, half of them are meant to be Jewish!“ But my stepdad was having none of it – he’d slope off to Radio Club and me and my mum and my auntie would stay home and watch Friends.
I loved it and I watched it and I enjoyed it and I loved them all – but mainly Rachel, of course. But this is the thing: when I went away to uni aged 18, I never bothered watching the rest. We only had a TV room at my halls of residence, and although I made the effort for Ally McBeal – I didn’t bother for Friends. Then I moved to Germany in 2000. Back in those days, Friends was on German TV as much as Big Bang Theory is now. My German was so bad, I could only understand the episodes I had already seen in English. And so my rewatching Friends sessions have actually been catching up with Friends sessions as there was a lot I’d never seen. AND THIS IS WHAT I HAVE DISCOVERED (I suspect that none of it is incredibly original, sorry, but all of it is true, which is more important):
POINT ONE: Ross didn’t love Rachel – he was just in love with the idea of her. Literally all he liked about her was the way she looked. He didn’t love her or respect her at all and he also didn’t even like her that much. It’s just so depressing that our greatest love story of all time is based upon a relationship where the man basically despises the woman.
POINT TWO: The men are more imprisoned by sexism than the women are (in a way). When you rewatch Friends, you really cringe at all the casual sexism, homophobia and transphobia. Like, really cringe. (You can’t cringe at any of the racism, because there isn’t any, because there are literally like three PoC characters the whole series long). All of them are constantly, constantly making sexist or homophobic jokes at one another. But what’s really interesting is the way the men’s behaviour is policed – they are literally not allowed to do anything even slightly gender-ly subversive. A funny handbag or a jacket, learning how to do ballroom dancing. They’re really imprisoned by the role of man. You don’t really see the women struggling with sexism, although I would suggest that sexism plays a role in why the women aren’t as financially independent as the men are but it’s an invisible role. But there are moments, and I know this might sound anti-feminist in a way, there are moments when I kind of feel nostalgia for the world the Friends girls live in. The jokes they make about Ross or Chandler being losers, and the way they think the boys will do anything if they show them their nipples….ah it makes me yearn for simpler times. Nowadays they’d have to be all like „Will you let us swap back apartments again if we promise to let you piss on us, collect the piss in a trough, and then waterboard us in the collected pee?“ They were all like „Joey, I’ll flash ya!“
POINT THREE: Phoebe is really funny.
POINT FOUR: It is really weird how they all laugh at Ross for having a normal job. I literally don’t get it. What is nerdy about dinosaurs? It’s so weird. I literally don’t understand what the joke is. He’s like a dinosaur scientist, it’s a perfectly good job, what the fuck are they on about.
POINT FIVE: Joey is the most sexist, but at the same time, the least misogynist, boy on the show. This is really weird. I guess it’s a paradox or something? He says sexist things quite often – sometimes grotesquely sexist – but he doesn’t hate women. Chandler and Ross share all of his sexist ideas, but they sometimes dress their language up a tiny bit, they’re not as tacky or a clumsy as Joey is. But they hate women more than he does. Especially Ross. Ross despises women: BUT NOT AS MUCH AS I HATE HIM.
What am I going to watch now I have „re“watched all of Friends? Me and my son are watching Haus des Geldes at the moment. I know you are all going to hate me for this, but we are actually watching it dubbed into English. I KNOW, I KNOW, I am a fucking hypocritical scumbag dick. I can’t believe it. 17 years of going: „But that isn’t Robert De Niro’s voice! He doesn’t talk like that! Doesn’t it bother you, that that isn’t his voice? That is not his voice. So much of the acting takes place through the voice, I’d say at least 70% of it…..“ AND NOW MY SON WAS LIKE LET’S JUST WATCH IT IN ENGLISH AND AFTER 2 MINS I GAVE IN AND SAID OKAY. Aaargh. I deserve your contempt. It’s just so much easier than reading the subtitles the whole time, man. Some of the voice actors are just way off though, the other day a hostage said „Here I am!“ in a really cheery, chirpy voice like someone had just asked her out on a date. Give me Netflix tips in the comments – I’ll watch new series or tell me something I should rewatch and I’ll review it for you guys.