The One Where We Talk about ‘Friends’
Recently, a friend of mine got me hooked on a show. I love a good TV show, so the draw was quick and the investment was easy. You may recognize the show simply from the title of this blog, or from a few quick quotes here:
“How you doin’?”
“Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!”
“We were on a BREAK!”
A lot could be said for the 10 season, fan-favorite TV show called “Friends.” The show started in 1994 (a year before I was born), wrapped up in 2004 and lives on in the hearts of many Millennials and Gen Xers today. The story was simple, though often got migraine-worthy complicated more times than not. The narrative displays six young adult friends who are doing their best to navigate relationships, careers, pop culture, failures, successes and conflicts that face every young adult trying to find their way in life.
I thoroughly enjoy vegging on the couch and watching an episode (or 20…) of Friends after a day of work. Though I find relaxation and joy in this, many times I can’t help but analyze the show from my Christian worldview and feel sad for these friends. In at least every other episode there is critical miscommunication, crushingly selfish actions and a shameless parade of sexual jokes, comments and behavior.
In this blog, my desire is first to highlight some key red flags that, as believers, should bother us in Friends. Lastly, I will then offer gold stars to positive friendship goals portrayed in the show.
‘Follow your heart’ mentality
Through nearly every episode, we see characters face hard or conflicting decisions. In the end, the person has a realization of what their heart “truly” wants.
So, naturally, they follow their heart into unwed sex as they face temptation. They follow their heart into self-serving situations as they face others. They follow their heart into silence as they face injustice or discomfort.
It’s not surprising that each of these characters take these actions at the whim of their heart. Nonbelievers will act like nonbelievers, and we should neither be surprised nor angry with them when they behave as such. Believers, however, should always take note and weigh the repercussions of following their heart over following the Spirit.
Casual use of pornography
Pornography has plagued our culture. It has been around longer than you think and is here to stay, as long as believers wish war against it rather than wage war against it.
Friends characters continually paint pornography merely as a tool for sexual arousal, self-satisfying therapy or a “how-to” guide. It is portrayed as humorous, normal and even beneficial. I’ve seen this played out in current TV shows such as New Girl, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and others as well. Don’t give the Enemy a foothold by adopting a casual use or view of pornography.
Unrealistic relationship pressures
The show is consistently nurturing discontentment and shame in being single. When a couple breaks up (or “takes a break”), immediate pressure is placed on them to resolve this issue called “loneliness.” The behavior and mentality are naturally adopted by the viewers.
I, myself, have found an increased struggle to manage my contentment in singleness the more immersed in the show I become. I consistently must remind myself that my loneliness is cast out by the omnipresent Father.
They build each other up
The characters in Friends are continually building each other up. It may come in either a sarcastic comment or a warm hug, but there is no doubt about it—these friends are here for each other. This can be elevated and increased in Christian relationships as friends spiritually sharpen one another (Prov. 27:17).
They have moderate boundaries
Boundaries aren’t these characters’ strong suits, especially when it comes to sexual temptation, but they are something I consider gold star worthy. However, I reserve the right to demote them to a silver star as I wrap up the ninth season.
The Bible tells us that we should be careful and thoughtful in how we handle our friendships (Prov. 12:26). As believers, we should be able to surpass those in the TV show by simply being prayerful about our relationships. There should especially be caution and boundaries between friends of the opposite sex.
They are sacrificial
The friends in this TV show exemplify sacrificial love as best can be displayed in a secular sitcom. In most episodes, their sacrifice comes in the form of surrendering time, effort or respect. John 15:13, however, tells believers that more is required of godly friendships. We are called to lay down our lives for our friends. There is no greater love.
On one hand, I love this TV show, and often find encouragement from its gold stars. On the other hand, I’ve had to check my flesh and spirit as I feed my body with the red flag elements of the show. I would like to encourage you, friends, to continually check, not only your friendships, but also things of which you fill your mind.
What we listen to, watch, read and consume will affect our friendships, and even more so, will affect our view of God.