Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Friends, A TV Show Review

I'd like to talk about my all-time favorite show, Friends. Jason and I LOVE it! We always said we were like Monica and Chandler....WAY before infertility entered our lives. How ironic. I was thinking about this show this morning, and how infertility and adoption are portrayed in the media, and decided to do a "TV show review" on Friends (not as academic as a book review to be sure:))!

First, let's talk infertility. I believe the Bing's (that's Monica and Chandler in case you don't watch...and if you don't watch, what is WRONG with you?!) journey with infertility lasted about half a season. Somewhere around that time, their great friend, Rachel, became pregnant with an "oopsy" and went on to have a perfect daughter (apparently condoms don't work 100% of the time and "THEY SHOULD PUT THAT ON THE BOX!!"). LOL, I digress. In fact, Monica and Chandler took care of her daughter as they were trying to conceive, unsuccessfully. Not ONCE did they portray the tension, pain, sadness, anger, etc that comes between friends when one can conceive and carry a child so easily, and the other cannot. The only grief they showed us about the Bing's infertility was when the doctor called and told them they both have issues and will not be able to have children together. Monica and Chandler had a brief conversation about options, and decided in about two minutes that they both agreed on next steps (how often does THAT happen?).

Cut to the next few episodes, and all of a sudden they are happily adopting (no reservations at all). Yeah, because that's how it happens. Certainly, we don't go through a grieving process when we give up on the idea of having biological children, and we obviously don't have any reservations, because adopting is so easy, right? Their homestudy is seamless and the match quick. I will give them credit, though, where credit is due. They definitely showed the nervousness we feel as our homes are being scrutinized by social workers, and they for sure showed Monica's intense desire to get a call as soon as possible.

What I loved about how they portrayed the adoption process was how open it was. They met the birth mom, came to know and love her, and were there when the babies were born (yes, she had twins). It ended there, though. They happily took two babies home and "bid ado" to the birth mom. No mention of the intense grief she was experiencing (I know, I know, not real life here), and no mention of an adjustment period for these babies, who just lost their first mom (the birth dad was non-existent).

In summary....

What I loved:
  • They actually tackled infertility, however surface level - Go Friends!
  • They showed how wonderful open adoption can be.
  • America got another opportunity to watch the process (however simple) of adoption, and this hopefully makes it less scary for people.
  • And my favorite part - Monica and Chandler did NOT get pregnant as soon as they "relaxed" or as soon as they adopted. I HATE when movies about infertility end with the couple happily pregnant after just relaxing...uggghhh, gag me! Again, a point for Friends!
What I didn't so much love:
  • The intense pain and grief of infertility was smashed into one scene when the dooming news was shared by the doctor (Jason so eloquently reminds that it IS a comedy, Faith!).
  • There was absolutely no conflict between Monica and Chandler about next steps - in reality, we know that infertility can put a huge wedge between couples, for many, many reasons.
  • The grief that comes with letting go of expectations (and control) and deciding to adopt was not addressed.
  • The birth mom's real experience was totally lost, as was the babies' experience, for that matter.
After writing this, what I've decided is, over all, they did a good job with telling a story with the forum that they had. It is a comedy after all, with lots of story lines. The fact that we, as infertiles and adoptive-parents-to-be, were even a piece of those story lines is definitely a step in the right direction!

So, now I want to know what you think. Do you feel Friends made your story more visible, and therefore more real to people? Or do you feel that it just lessened others' understanding by minimizing everything? Or do you not think this much about your favorite TV shows and just not care...and pretty much think I'm crazy?!


  1. I liked that they adopted, I liked the constant peeing on a stick with no pregnancy. I think that being a comedy and the NEED to keep things light took away the drama associated with infertility and adoption but being a comedy and keeping withing the rules of comedy they did a great job. I for one like that it was kept light, sometimes I get sick of the drama in shows about adoption and infertility (even though it IS) and like the lighthearted approach.

    All in all A+ for adoption/infertility broached on Friends.

  2. Hmmmm.. very interesting mention as I too love friends... I wasn't sure if I rememebered correctly that we were dealing with infertility by the time the season finale was coming out... but we were.... because by 2004 we were married about 3 years and were just getting started on our infertility journey... so I do remember this situation being a little bit more "real" for me in the sense that I watched it from a slightly different perspective than most people... It was already becoming a very not funny situation for us... so I do remember being a bit critical... mostly about the lack of accuracy from doctors etc... even when Phoebe gets pregnant I was like, huh, you do not leave embryos in a petri dish for people to talk to... thats crazy and weird and not real! As for Monika and Chandler... I remember when the doctor said, well, your options are Surragacy or doner sperm... which I remember thinking, those two options don't make sense... if you need surrogacy, why would doner sperm also be an option..??? I didn't mind the light heartedness really, what always bugs me in any situation is when people dont' do enough research and try to portray situations or actions that they do not know enough about... they obviously did not get an infertility patient involved, comedy or no comedy, and so that annoys me... and I do love friends! Its kind of like when I watch someone on t.v. that plays the violin and they hold the violin all wrong and I can tell the person really has no idea of how to play... I've played for years...
    So, being someone who was actually on the journey when this episode aired was interesting. I remember Chandlers quote... something like "my wife is a mother without a baby" and THAT was touching... because that is how I felt and i loved that the guy, Chandler, got it... but as for the sloppy details with portraying "procedures" and "lingo" I give a D... people should be better educated socially as to fully research a medical situation and THEN make it light hearted or funny etc... and now that I'm going through adoption, its even more silly, though I knew it then, that the birthmom was too dumb to know she had twins, that she was going back to "church camp" after giving birth... etc... sort of a bad light on birthmoms out there and I wonder just what their thoughts might be on the situation because in many ways, they made out the worst in portrayal, didn't they? Sometimes i think maybe shows like friends realy doesn't have to mess with serious issues like infertility and should stick with lighter issues... which obviously also again suggests that the producers or writers really had no idea about infertility at all... LOVE friends but this was not their highest point for me... (Come on, someone like MOnika would never deal with infertility the way they tried to suggest she would on tv!)

  3. I was too young to really understand because at that time I thought you looked at a boy and got pregnant. I was amazed they couldn't get pregnant but I liked that they were adopting. I thought it was silly that Rachel got pregnant but it made for a great show! They also dabbled in surrogacy because Febe was a surrogate mother for her brother...FRIENDS touched a few issues!

  4. Friends is one of my all time favorite shows, and I watch reruns whenever I happen to catch them on. I too remember vividly Chandler's quote to the BM Erica that his wife was a mother without a baby. Awwwwww!!!! I do think that they tried to keep it light due to the comedic nature of the show, but the few scenes that did show some depth to infertility/adoption were done well. I think they glossed over many, many emotions and details surrounding infertility/adoption because maybe they didn't want to hit too many nerves with their viewers? Who knows...but I found the whole surprise! It's twins! thing annoying. In this day and age, that could never, ever happen. And I didn't like that they portrayed the birthmother as this totally ditzy, dumb (a female version of Joey) blonde who didn't even know she was having twins. I think that was very stereotypical and I didn't like that!!!

    I still love the show though!

  5. I never really watched Friends so I had no idea that they actually tackled infertility/adoption! I LOVE it when any show tackles the issue because I think in general it is given the "don't ask/don't tell" treatment and all that manages to do is alienate infertile and adoptive parents, adoptees and first parents. The more people who haven't struggled with infertility or any part of the adoption triangle know about where we (who have) are at and where we come from the better!

    That said, I DO think they could have tackled the issue from a more educated place. That is the burden of those shows/movies that do tackle the subject. They are few and far between and so we need as accurate and informative representation as we can get when we can get it!

    Great post!


    P.S. I completely agree that it is a big plus that they didn't end up getting pregnant because I too gag when that happens. Ahem... Baby Mama... Ahem... SATC!

  6. Friends is one of my all time favorite Tv show.It is fantastic show.I never missed in any episode.so you can Watch Prison Break Online show in this site and enjoy it.