Tonight's episode is called: "The One Where the Monkey Got Away."
At the end of the episode, they all share stories of the horrors of high school life, except for horndog Joey (Matt LeBlanc): for him, high school was "just four years of parties and dating and sex."
A major lifestyle choice? Is he kidding?
A MAJOR LIFESTYLE CHOICE?????
This is not the era of the Reagan-Bush conservative retrenchment. We're in the heart of the relatively gay-positive Clinton years. Roseanne had been kissed by a lesbian admirer; there was a gay wedding on Northern Exposure. There are gay partnership laws, anti-discrimination ordinances. The horrendous "Don't ask, don't tell" policy is being challenged in the Supreme Court.
It's not exactly safe in the straight world beyond gay neighborhoods, but it's safer than it has been in over a decade.
Then Chandler said that?
I knew that Friends was heterosexist, extolling male-female romance as the meaning of life. I knew that the guys ridicule each other's slightest gender misstep as evidence that they are gay. But this isn't minor, veiled, "panic-over-touching-a-dude" homophobia. It's open, brutal, disgusting.
Who is responsible for this outrageous slap in the face of every gay person on Earth?
Jeff Astrof (left) wrote eight other episodes of Friends. More recently he has written and been executive producer of Grounded for Life, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and S*** My Dad Says (yes, there really was such a program), and Partners (about two best buds, one straight, one gay).
Mike Sikowitz (below) co-wrote the episodes, collaborated with Jeff Astrof on most of his projects, and also wrote/produced episodes of The Class (which had a gay character and a gay-stereotyped straight character who shrieks "Oh, my popovers!"), Rules of Engagement, The McCarthys (which has a gay character), and Welcome to the Family.
He has a film writing credit in 2014: Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant. I'm not kidding.
Another question: why didn't someone speak up? Director Peter Bonerz? Creator David Crane, or guest star Megan Cavanaugh, who are both gay?
Why didn't anyone insist that the line be changed to something less ridiculously homophobic?
How about "any sex I had would have required the words out of and closet."
How about "any sex I had would have required a whole new 'birds and bees talk'."
How about "any sex I had would have barred me from donating blood for the rest of my life."
30.4 million people watched. The next week's episode had only 29.4 million, perhaps the result of 1,000,000 gay people and allies turning off Friends forever.
I didn't watch Friends again, except for the nine episodes with Giovanni Ribisi as a guest star. He was cute, so I figured I could handle the hatred.
See also: The Homophobic Small Town Manhattan of "Friends."