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Friends Storylines That Fans Hated

Friends is the ultimate 1990s sitcom. The half-hour series revolves around six twenty-somethings: Spoiled fashionista Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), neurotic chef Monica (Courteney Cox), wacky free spirit Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), sarcastic funnyman Chandler (Matthew Perry), goofy actor Joey (Matt LeBlanc), and Monica's dorky brother, Ross (David Schwimmer). Together, they struggle to fulfill their dreams, spend hours at Central Perk, and pursue an endless number of romances — sometimes with each other. Monica and Chandler get together. Ross and Rachel get together, then break up, then get back together, then break up, then have a baby. Phoebe gets together with Mike Hannigan, played by Paul Rudd. Joey, ever the ladies' man, stays single and takes off for Joey, an ill-advised 2004 spinoff. 

With 10 seasons to its name, Friends defined the 1990s, launched its stars' careers, and changed the TV landscape forever. But in the age of the binge rewatch, Friends' virtues and flaws have been brought into newly sharp relief. Sure, fans can endlessly revisit their favorite moments at the click of a button ... but they'll also be confronted with the elements of the show that they couldn't stand then, and can't stand now. These are the Friends storylines fans absolutely hate.

Rachel sleeping with Barry again (and Mindy not caring)

In Friends' pilot, Rachel bursts into Central Perk wearing a wedding dress. She's left her fiance, Barry, at the altar, and wants to start a new life. Late in the first season, Rachel learns that Barry is now engaged to her former best friend, Mindy, who had been her maid of honor. Mindy now wants Rachel to return the favor and be her maid of honor. She agrees, but Barry reaches out to Rachel claiming he still loves her. The two meet up and end up sleeping together. When Rachel comes clean to Mindy, Mindy also comes clean to Rachel: She and Barry had also slept together while Rachel was engaged to him.

The worst part about this storyline isn't that Barry managed to deceive two women who are both way too good for him — it's that Mindy doesn't care. She still goes ahead and agrees to marry Barry, just because she wants to be "Mrs. Doctor Barry Farber, DDS." Mindy puts up with infidelity just to fulfill her dream of being a doctor's wife. It's a wonder Friends never brought Mindy and Barry back later in the series in a divorce plotline. Rachel sleeping with Barry again is super low, but at least she escapes a seriously bad apple.

Ross being a jealous maniac about Mark

When Ross and Rachel finally get together in Friends' second season, fans were ecstatic. But when Rachel meets a guy named Mark who offers to get her an interview at Bloomingdale's, a crazy switch flips in Ross. He becomes insanely jealous of Rachel's new job, questions Mark's motives, and generally gives Rachel grief for loving her career. Most frustratingly, he treats her like territory to be marked as his.

Ross sends a singing barbershop quartet to Rachel's office, floods her desk with flowers and stuffed animals, and even shows up at her place of work with a picnic dinner while she's in the middle of a work crisis. This leads to them "taking a break," during which Ross sleeps with Chloe the copy girl, an event that causes Ross and Rachel to officially break up. The whole scenario is annoying: The entirety of Friends' first season sets these two up, then barely gives them a season to actually be together. As a result, the whole rest of the series revolves around Ross and Rachel getting back together, which becomes tiring and repetitive.

Monica and Chandler look for a sperm donor

When Monica and Chandler decide to start trying for a baby, their doctor tells them that Chandler's sperm has low motility and Monica's uterus is inhospitable. So it doesn't really make sense that the doc then suggests they try to find a sperm donor. If Monica's uterus is inhospitable, wouldn't they need a surrogate too? Despite this unscientific set-up, Chandler and Monica's struggles with infertility become a touching emotional journey for the two of them. "The One With The Donor," however, is not exactly a high point of the storyline.

Chandler brings home a "work friend" named Zack, played by John Stamos, to introduce him to Monica as a potential sperm donor. The creepy part about this whole scenario is that Chandler does not really know Zack, and furthermore that Zack has no idea the reason Chandler has invited him over is to potentially harvest his sperm. He picks Zack for being super attractive, and Monica likes him for using a coaster. So when they start asking Zack invasive medical questions, Zack gets creeped out and bails. Good on you, Zack. Chandler and Monica eventually adopt, but no one is likely to forget this episode's utter creepiness.

When Chandler moves to Tulsa

Writers seem to have been grasping at straws by Friends' ninth season. Sending Chandler to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a number of episodes just feels like an excuse for creating misunderstandings, mistaken locations, and geographical tomfoolery.

The whole scenario begins when Chandler falls asleep in an important meeting and somehow volunteers to head up his data processing company's office in Tulsa. Monica, who has just been offered a new chef job, chooses to stay behind in New York. Chandler travels back and forth between the two cities, which leads to episodes in which Monica thinks Chandler gets turned on by sharks, Joey thinks Monica is having an affair, and Monica thinks Chandler is having an affair — on Christmas, no less. Every single Tulsa storyline is contrived, convoluted, and boring, the sort of rote sitcom shenanigans that elicit more groans than laughs. Eventually, Chandler quits the job that he's had for years and moves back to New York. It's a welcome relief, but one that shouldn't have been necessary in the first place.

Ross and Rachel still being married

Ross and Rachel getting drunkenly married in Las Vegas at the end of season five is one of the best season finales of the entire show. With the whole gang out in Las Vegas to visit Joey on a movie shoot, Monica and Chandler decide to skip the pomp and circumstance of a wedding and get married there. But when a drunk Ross and Rachel burst out of the wedding chapel freshly minted in marriage, an annoying season six story line is set into motion.

Back in New York, Ross and Rachel decide to get an annulment, and Ross says that he'll take care of everything. But in reality, he does absolutely nothing and lets them stay married, giving the excuse that he couldn't face having three failed marriages. It's not clear what exactly Ross was planning on doing by staying married to Rachel — as Rachel herself asks, it seems like he was hoping to simply never have to tell her. The two eventually get a divorce, bringing the whole fiasco to a sad and uncomfortable end. All it really does is make Ross seem weird, desperate, and selfish.

Ross dating one of his students

Ross doesn't have the best track record when it comes to dating. Rachel really had to be his lobster in the end, because frankly, no one else would have him. There's Mona, who he keeps forgetting exists. There's Emily, whose name he replaces with Rachel's at the altar. Oh, and then there's his cousin. That's all that really needs to be said about that particular dalliance.

Ross's worst relationship, however, has got to be the one he has with Elizabeth. While teaching paleontology at NYU, Ross starts dating one of his undergraduate students, the plucky, blonde Elizabeth. She's a sweet enough girl — and should also be totally off-limits, as Ross is both significantly older and her professor. pursuing her is probably one of Ross' creepiest moments — and goodness knows, he has a number of those to his name. This is one line he simply should not have crossed.

Rachel hiring and dating Tag

Tag Jones, a handsome young man Rachel dates in season seven, is attractive, fun, and, at 24, more carefree than approaching-30 Rachel. He is also Rachel's employee. But wait: Not only is she his boss, she actually hires him because she's so incredibly attracted to him. Rachel chooses Tag as her assistant over a much more qualified candidate, in fact. She believes her attraction to him won't be a problem ... then promptly begins a relationship with him.

The fact that Rachel hires this guy for his looks, then enters into an affair with him while in a position of power over him, is gross on its own. But beyond that, she dumps him for being too young. When Rachel turns 30, she realizes that she and Tag are at different points in their lives, and so she leaves him hanging. In essence, Tag is just a way for Rachel to have a quarter-life crisis. The storyline might have gone over better if Tag ever became an interesting character, but alas, the guy has zero personality.

Ross not wanting a male nanny

When Ross and Rachel have baby Emma and move in together, despite still not being a couple, the whole scenario grows creaky. These two have dated, been married, been divorced, and are now living together with their baby. Sure, denial is strong, but this is a bit much. During this era of their relationship, Ross and Rachel interview a bunch of nannies to take care of Emma. The best candidate turns out to be a guy named Sandy, played by Freddie Prinze Jr., who plays the flute, puts on puppet shows, and displays a sensitivity that makes him an all-star nanny.

But of course, Ross is uncomfortable with the fact that Sandy is a dude. Ross blurts out a bunch of sexist garbage about Sandy being too sensitive, that being a nanny is a woman's job, and that his sensitivity makes Ross (who isn't exactly macho) uncomfortable. Ross's dislike of Sandy plays into stupid tropes about masculinity and how men are supposed to behave, all of which makes Ross look like a jerk. Alas, Sandy is never heard from again, and of course, they hire a hot woman that Joey eventually hits on. 

Chandler's dad and transphobia

Chandler's dad is the center of one of those Friends storylines that doesn't look good to modern eyes. Kathleen Turner plays the character, Helena, who performs as a drag artist in Las Vegas. It's not clear if Helena is in fact a transgender woman or if she's a gay man who performs as a drag queen, but that doesn't stop her from being the brunt of a lot of transphobic jokes throughout her multiple appearances on the show. 

Turner herself admits she wouldn't play the character today. "I don't think it's aged well ... How they approached with me with it was, 'Would you like to be the first woman playing a man playing a woman?' I said yes, because there weren't many drag/trans people on television at the time." But even if Helena's existence on the show was groundbreaking for a 1990s sitcom, her appearances all make her the butt of the joke. Fans back then might have thought of the casting of a woman "as a man playing a woman" as innovative, but fans now see it for what it always was: An ignorant gag.

Fat Monica

As Friends loves to remind its audience, Monica used to be fat. This fact is fodder for a thousand lazy jokes that aren't just boring, but outright cruel. Monica's body and its complex history is constantly used to mock and shame her: When it comes up, it always leads to a joke about her past self's life revolving around cookies, mayonnaise, or some other rich foodstuff. The Monica of the past is caricatured as sloppy, embarrassing, and hopeless — even her friends use the specter of fat Monica as a "gotcha." It is made clear, over and over again, that the respect of her friends and Chandler, her eventual husband, is conditional upon her weight. When they see photos or videos of her in the past, they mock her ruthlessly. When "The One That Could Have Been" examines what might have happened to her if she hadn't lost weight, she is portrayed as an eternal virgin whose neuroses revolve around — surprise! — candy. One season of this nastiness would have been enough, but Friends' crams ten seasons full of jokes about Monica's weight and just how fully it determines her worth. It's boring, it's cruel, and frankly, it makes us like all of Monica's friends less.

Joey falling for Rachel

Joey never has much luck in love, though to some degree, that's not really a problem for him: He's a womanizer who likes the freedom that lifestyle allows him. So when Joey starts developing feelings for Rachel, it's a major surprise. It does make a certain amount of sense, however. He doesn't spend real time with the women he sleeps with, and as such, never falls in love with them. But Rachel? Rachel is a woman he knows deeply. Jumping from platonic love to romantic love isn't an impossible leap for him to make.

The problem is that Joey starts falling for Rachel while she is pregnant with Ross's baby. The whole plotline feels exactly like what it is: Yet another hurdle to throw into the path of Ross and Rachel ending up together. Joey's crush, and the whole mistaken identity engagement story that springs from it, is a slog of a storyline. You know how it's going to end, you know why the writers shoved it in, and still, you have to sit through it.

Rachel falling for Joey

Joey developing feelings for Rachel is pretty forced on its own, but what feels even more shoehorned in is Rachel actually reciprocating those feelings a season later. It's as transparent a contrivance as Joey's interest, but actually even more weakly written: Joey's feelings grow with time, in episodes like "The One With Ross' Step Forward" and "The One Where Joey Dates Rachel," while Rachel's feelings come out of nowhere. Sure, she says yes when she thinks Joey is proposing to her, but she's literally just had a baby. Later, her feelings are rooted in jealousy at seeing Joey with Charlie (Aisha Tyler). That's about as much build up as we get for Rachel's passion for Joey: Post-natal snap judgment and sudden jealousy.

Joey and Rachel falling for one another and dragging their crushes around for three seasons has got to be one of the most hated storylines Friends ever put its fans through. Sure, Ross and Rachel needed obstacles on the path to wedded bliss, but this one isn't just a bit much — it's weakly written.