Friends: cooler for more reasons than I originally thought!


I have seen Friends an embarrassing number of times. Many of those times have been post giving birth to my twins – Friends was a pretty good companion to me through early (constant!) napping, or when things were particularly haywire and I needed an hour of having ‘other people’ in the room with me.

Consequently, I’ve noticed a lot of awesome stuff.


Ben is breastfed by Carol. Not only does Friends show this happening, but there’s a whole episode where it is a major storyline, and people are tasting Carol’s milk and finding it nice! Carol is also pumping for Ben, as Ross is given bottles of breastmilk to feed Ben when Carol isn’t around.

Rachael also breastfeeds Emma. As I type, she’s learning how to latch Emma on. Again, Friends is showing this happen – albeit Joey is there, making sexualised comments.

Cloth diapering

I just noticed a throwaway comment where Rachael says they need to get a diaper service before the birth. If they were planning on using disposables,  I don’t think one would be needed – correct me if I’m wrong?

The lovely @katiespickles on twitter has also said that Ben is wearing cloth diapers in one episode when he is a baby. Rachael is changing his diaper, and he says ‘hi’ for the first time.


Ben is worn in a soft structured carrier. I can’t recall if we see it happen – perhaps once – but the carrier is present when Joey and Chandler babysit Ben. Joey is wearing a giant teddy bear in it. A bit bizarre as Ben is in a carseat, but whatevs.

After Emma is born, we see Ross babywearing her in a soft structured carrier – FACING ROSS!! (@katiespickles thinks it may have been a Bjorn. *sigh* At any rate, she says it is a crotch dangler *double sigh*.) The fact that she’s in a sling isn’t mentioned, which is normalizing. And the fact that she’s not facing out, as most people outside of hardcore babywearers seem to think is correct, is also another biggie.

Lesbian/Transgendered parenting

Obviously Ben is predominantly raised by Susan and Carol, and as the series progresses his teacher asks Pheobe at one point, ‘Oh, are you one of Ben’s moms?’ Throughout Carol’s pregnancy, this parenting triangle is mentioned many times – at doctor check ups, at antenatal birthing classes, etc. Not a negative comment or judgment is anywhere!

The ‘hot nanny’ in Season 10 (‘so hot I cried myself to sleep!’ – Ross) is also a lesbian.

Woah!! @joyfulabode just reminded me of Chandler’s dad. Though it is never directly labelled on the show, I would tentatively label him/her as transgendered, as an umbrella term.

Single parenting

You’ve got Ross, you’ve got Rachael, you’ve got Joey’s pregnant sister. Ross mentions missing milestones in Rachael’s pregnancy, as well as wishing he had more time with Ben.I think Ross is a great example of a single dad – and how great the show shows his side of things, especially with the cross cultural Jewish stuff, too.

On the other side of the coin, you have Monica telling Rachael how difficult it is to be a single parent, and Rachael’s fears make her say yes to Joey’s proposal.

Janice is also a single parent on and off through the show, dealing with dating, divorce, and remarriage. @joyfulabode also points out that divorce has obviously had a big impact on Chandler…who can forget his sad little dancing in the snowy reststop after Ross and Rachael’s break up?!

Monitoring fertility to conceive

Only because I just saw Monica’s dad talking about ovulation and the best positions to conceive in!! You also see the progression of Monica and Chandler trying each time she ovulates. Of course, she does ‘period math’ to figure this out – no mention of the multiple other, more accurate ways to do so…but c’mon. It’s a 22 minute show. (Though @dashoff reminded me in the comments that she uses ovulation sticks as well…and, let’s not forget, so does Chandler!)


The infertility of Monica and Chandler is a main story arc – which I think is awfully brave of the writers and producers, particularly as the show is primarily billed as a comedy. What makes this more complex and appealing to me is that there is a mixture of sadness, hope, and laughter – just like life, there’s a lot of gray between the black and white.

We see them try naturally, consider sperm donors, talk about surrogacy, and then move on to adoption. (Still don’t get why IVF was not an option – but again, no doubt the infertility/adoption storyline was more compelling!)

Pheobe’s brother and his wife are unable to have children naturally, so they have IVF and turn to Pheobe for…


Pheobe carries her brother’s triplets for him. The issues of the pressure of getting pregnant, the expense of the IVF/surrogacy, as well as the harder issues of having to give children your womb held for nine months to another family are covered. I know I can’t be the only one who laughed when Pheobe fell in love with her surrogate puppy, or cried when she said hello/goodbye to the triplets.

Older mothers

Obviously, Pheobe’s brother’s wife (cannot remember either of their names!! Help a sista out!!) is an older woman – and I think that is actually cited as the reason she can’t get pregnant. Her eggs are obviously still good…so I don’t think it makes total sense, but still. The issue is raised.


Monica and Chandler adopt baby boy/girl twins (holla!) at the end of Season 10. This story line covers when/how to tell kids they are adopted (don’t let Chandler do it), the agony of waiting for that call, open adoption, meeting with the birth mother, and forming a relationship with the birth mother.

Natural birthing

There are four births on Friends, for a total of seven kids born over the show. I do not recall epidurals being used for Carol, Pheobe,  Rachael, or Erica – nor any drugs. Rachael does make jokes about drugs, but her entire labour is shown…and a long one it is…with no pain relief.

So natural births for multiples, breech birth, and failure to progress.


Hi, triplets and twins!

We see how exhausted Pheobe’s brother is from caring for triplets – and then laugh along when it takes Pheobe, Monica, and Chandler to babysit. When Pheobe manages to get them all to fall asleep on her own – and the house is wrecked in the process – I know I cheered for her.

I also love the line where Rachael mentions to Chandler and Monica that she’s sorry she won’t be around to see them try to handle twins. I agree!


@katiespickles (the one person who may equal me in my obsessiveness about Friends, it appears!) mentions that Rachael co-sleeps with Emma in the same room, though that could be due to a lack of space in the flat. This one was interesting because I never would have thought of this!

Many thanks to @katiespickles, @1xmum, @joyfulabode, and @sbartholomew for having the Friends discussion on twitter! Lots of talk about Joey’s teddy bear, cloth diapering, and breastfeeding. (And all good people to follow!)

Did I/we miss anything? I know everytime I see the series (yes, every time), I see new things. And I’ve never actively gone ‘parenting hunting’ while watching.

Please do leave a comment if you can think of any other story lines or episodes that deal with these issues that weren’t mentioned – or let me know if we totally missed a huge area!!

Or, you know, leave a comment telling me how cool it is to have spent months thinking about this shit.

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16 Responses to “Friends: cooler for more reasons than I originally thought!”

  1. Katie Says:

    let’s see, Frank & Alice!

    Also I wondered about the IVF thing too. If she could carry a sperm donor’s baby why couldn’t she carry Chandler’s baby? If they were doing IVF his low motility wouldn’t have been an issue.

    In the episode with Carol breastfeeding, I love how supportive Ross is. “This is the most beautiful and natural thing in the world!” and then of course, Joey & Chandler say “yeah but there’s a baby sucking on it” or something like that!

    Like @1Xmum and I talked about, I love that they let Rachel labor and didn’t call “failure to progress”!!!!

    If I think of anymore, I’ll let you know! Love this post! I might link it! 🙂

    • existere Says:

      FRANK AND ALICE. Oh my. Of course.

      I love when Rachel says breastfeeding feels weird, and Ross asks, ‘Bad weird?’ Her reply…’WONDERFUL weird’ gets me every time.

      Feel free to link.

  2. Diane Says:

    Rachel’s natural birth even involves Emma being breech! I always remark that in real life, she’d have been slapped with Pitocin a few hours after getting to the hospital.

    Don’t forget when Erica gives birth to Monica and Chandler’s twins; I’m pretty sure that one was also drug-free. I also appreciated that Erica’s trip to the hospital came as a result of just being in labor, and not the typical TV spontaneous water breakage (like with Rachel and Phoebe — I can’t remember Carol’s birth as well.)

    During the infertility season, Monica does talk about taking her temperature and using pee sticks to check for ovulation.

    I love that you blogged this! I’ve also watched Friends straight through an embarrassing number of times. We just finished season 10 the other night, even.

    • existere Says:

      You are GOOD. I forgot we see Erica give birth. And about the pee sticks. D’oh!!

      I don’t remember Monica talking about temping, but I’m in Season 8 so coming up to the time when I’ll pay attention and notice it. You win the gold star for observing shit I don’t, and reminding me of things I forgot!

  3. babybabylemon Says:

    I love that you wrote about this. I’ve been watching reruns of Friends when I get trapped under a sleeping baby who wont be moved for naptime and I have noticed a few of these things, but not all. I do remember that Monica has an “inhospitable uterus,” perhaps that is the reason for no IVVF?

    • existere Says:

      Ah, Friends. The show of trapped mothers worldwide.

      She may have an inhospitable uterus, but her getting pregnant by donor sperm is offered as an option! I probably only notice these things because I had IVF myself!

  4. Marcy Says:

    This is so funny b/c I never would have thought of the Friends characters as “AP.” But you are right, they all breastfed, all had natural labors (even with breech, twins and triplets!!), etc. I don’t think I ever noticed that ben wore cloth diapers, but I wouldn’t have known to look for the difference back when I was watching the show…

    • existere Says:

      I wouldn’t have, either. But then you look at all this stuff and it starts to click. I think Marta Kauffman, one of the producers, was into slings and things. I don’t know where I heard that, could be pulling it out of my ass, but I think I’m right. She was an older mother as well.

  5. Christy Says:

    I agree with everyone, I’m so glad you blogged this. I love Friends but haven’t watched since becoming a Mom. I can’t wait to watch it again.

  6. Amanda Says:

    I only saw my first episode of Friends a month or so (and got sucked in) ago but I love all this geekyness going on. 😀

  7. Natasha Says:

    I have spent time thinking about all of this recently! How freaky!

    Although the triplet natural labour / birth thing grates on me a little. It’s unrealistic!

  8. Jess Says:

    Never watched ‘Friends’. Now I’m going to have to!!

  9. TMD Says:

    It is indeed so cool that you have spent months thinking about this shit. Ya little freak.

  10. Desiree Fawn Says:

    During my babymoon I watched the entire season of Friends and it was wonderful!

    This post is fantastic, by the way — definitely adding it to my Fawned Friday post for this week 😉

  11. Claire Says:

    Oh you make me want to watch that show again. I’m gonna download it. 😛

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