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The Controversial Friends Episode 24% Of People Would Have Refused To Film

For 10 years, NBC's "Friends" kept fans glued to their television sets, eager to see what shenanigans the famous sixsome would get into each week. We cheered when Ross and Rachel finally kissed, and cried when they went on a break. Our jaws dropped when Monica popped out of the sheets of Chandler's bed. And we counted on Joey and Phoebe to add their particular sense of kookiness to every situation.

Admittedly, not every storyline or joke hit the mark. Take for instance, the frequent fat-shaming and homophobia among the characters. By today's standards, those jokes would likely not make the final cut. Also, there was the painful-to-watch romance between Rachel and Joey. And, with all due respect to the sexually frustrated capuchin, we're still wondering why there was a monkey on the show. But, with 236 episodes, there's bound to be a few that rub people the wrong way. Recently, Looper asked 618 Americans which controversial episode of "Friends" they would have opted not to film. And the results are not what you'd expect.

Two Ross and Rachel storylines received the least votes

With just 5.02% of the vote, viewers were largely okay with "The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break." Looking back over the episode, it's mostly free of any real controversy. But, given that the debate over whether or not Ross and Rachel were indeed on break has continued long since the episode aired in 1997, it's not shocking that survey respondents would like to erase the episode from memory.

Next up is "The One With the Male Nanny," which earned 13.75% of the vote. In this Season 9 episode, Ross and Rachel hire Sandy (Freddie Prinze Jr.) as their daughter's nanny. While both parents think Sandy is a great nanny, Ross has very serious issues with Sandy being a man. Throughout the episode, Ross makes several comments about the nanny's sexuality, believing the straight-identifying Sandy must surely be gay or bi given his profession, recorder skills, and baking prowess. As mentioned, the "comical" homophobia in the episode would face massive criticism today, which is likely why it appears on the list.

Friends had some taboo storylines that viewers disliked

A little over 16% of survey respondents said they'd refuse to film Season 7's "The One With Ross and Monica's Cousin." Denise Richards guest starred in the episode, playing the visiting cousin Cassie, who apparently has a magical power that immediately makes people lust after her. After Chandler becomes enchanted, Monica sends Cassie to stay with Ross, which is when things got icky. While watching a movie with Cassie, Ross severely misreads her body language and goes in for a kiss. He then makes the awkward situation worse when he tries to explain his inappropriate behavior, saying, "I haven't had sex in a very long time." Given the blatant incest, it's no wonder 16% of survey takers had issue with the episode.

"The One Where Ross Dates a Student" also featured a social taboo, which helped earn it 18.28% of the vote. In the episode, Ross is wrapping up another semester as a professor at New York University. While reviewing teacher evaluations, he discovers that one of his students has a crush on him. After some deliberation, and bad advice from Joey, Ross begins to date the student, Elizabeth (Alexandra Holden). Given the lopsided power dynamic between a teacher and a student, we understand why this episode ruffled so many feathers.

Friends struggled with LGBTQ+ representation

With 22.17% of the vote, Season 7's "The One With Chandler's Dad" comes in as the second-highest vote getter in the survey. General criticism of "Friends" often includes the lack of representation of BIPOC and LGBTQ+, an odd oversight given the NYC setting. One of the few LGBTQ+ characters to appear on the show was Chandler's father. Earlier seasons had references to Mr. Bing headlining a drag show in Vegas, but when we actually meet Chandler's dad it becomes clear the show's writers struggled with LGBTQ+ identities.

Chandler's many homophobic jokes aside, the main controversy comes from casting decisions. For the role of Chandler's "drag queen" father, the creative team went with the amazing Kathleen Turner. Surely the writers were aware that drag queens are men who perform stage acts as women? Audiences may have been willing to overlook that disconnect, but then "Friends" went one step further. In all future episodes featuring Turner, she presents as a woman, even when not on stage. Essentially, Chandler's father isn't a drag queen, she's a transgender woman (though the term is never used). While some might applaud the series for including a trans character, having a cis woman play a trans woman is very problematic.

Chandler's self-love was a bit fishy

Topping the list, with 24.60% of the vote, the episode most people would have refused to film is ... "The One With the Sharks." In this Season 9 episode, Monica flies to Oklahoma to surprise Chandler who has been working out of his company's Tulsa office. She arrives at his hotel room while he is ... enjoying some adult cinema. Hearing someone enter his room, he quickly hits the remote and changes the channel. Monica immediately knows her husband was engaged in some self-love, but she's shocked to see what's on TV: a shark attack show.

To her credit, Monica works hard to accept this aspect of Chandler's sexual interests, even going so far as buying shark videos to get him in the mood and offering to thrash around like she herself is being attacked by a shark. The misunderstanding is eventually fixed, much to Monica's relief. Seeing this episode take 1st place on the list definitely took us by surprise. With episodes involving incest and homophobia, what's a little harmless shark porn?