"Friends The Reunion": What critics of aging actors say about us

FRIENDS – “We’ll need a bigger sofa.” This announcement from the HBO max platform made more than one shudder. After 15 years, nine months and an incalculable number of requests from fans across the planet, the cast of “Friends” has finally come together to offer the general public a final episode, already released on Salto in VOST and broadcast this Thursday 24 June at 9:05 p.m. in French on TF1. The fans are impatient … and some surprised.

Within hours, Twitter caught fire. The release of the trailer for this latest episode titled “Friends: The Reunion” sparked a wave of attacks and hatred. In question, the change in physical appearance of the six actors who have aged. “Time has been dear to Joey”, “Ouch the weight of the years hurts ..”, “the guys have aged so badly”, pinged a few Twittos.

But why are we so focused on aging personalities? According to Catherine Grangeard, psychoanalyst and author of the book “There is no age to enjoy”, contacted by Then24, the justification lies in ageism, in other words in the refusal to grow old. “We identify with the characters we follow in a series, they are our mirror. If they’ve aged, so have we. But in our society, we hate aging, we want to look like a social ideal, to be beautiful and sexy. ”

To make fun is also to defend yourself

Many people have found through the series “Friends” a kind of “memory refuge” like a “madeleine de Proust”, affirms to the HuffPost Samuel Dock, writer and clinical psychologist in Paris. “This refuge loses its evocative power when we realize that it is only an image. This reassuring and consoling image which has been part of our habits, it is only an image, because the actors age, in the same way that we will also age and all the refuges that we will have been able to constitute within the culture will not be sufficient to alleviate this fear of aging. ”

Mocking also means defending yourself and keeping a problem at bay. ”Through the characters of ‘Friends’, one also makes fun of oneself, and one makes fun of a personal and intimate anguish. To grow old is to approach death. If there is an immense taboo in our society, it is indeed this one, especially in a secularized society where we are much less religious. Dying has never been so scary as in the 21st century, especially in the general context of a pandemic ”, continues Samuel Dock.

In addition to criticism of aging, the “botoxed” appearance of certain players has also wreaked havoc on the networks. “I am thrilled to see them again, however, cosmetic surgery has wreaked havoc on some people … we don’t recognize them anymore!”, Comments Sabrina on Twitter.

“Cosmetic surgery is often reserved for a certain class,” notes Samuel Dock. “When a person ages, we will wonder about the material resources that are available to be able to cope with this great age. By making fun of surgery, we are making fun of the dominant classes and their codes. In this way, we abolish this border for a moment and we triumph over the class struggle. ”

Critics also focused on the age and physique of Rachel or Monica, now in their fifties. “It is a reflection of patriarchal domination,” says Samuel Dock. “Again, you admit a lot more from men than you would admit from women.”

Friends cast reunite for ultimate episode titled “Friends: The Reunion”

More broadly, Internet users have questioned the lack of clarity of the format. “Wait, I don’t understand. Is it a new season with fictional characters or a show between actors? ”Asks a user. The response disappointed more than one. No, we will no longer find the characters of Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe and Joey for an eleventh season.

This special episode takes the form of a talk show where the actors share memories and anecdotes, a kind of “remember”, with the added bonus of high-profile guests, like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga or Cindy Crawford . Each actor in the series received at least $ 2.5 million for this meeting, according to information from the American site Variety.

A lack of diversity

Another point of contention, the lack of diversity in the flock of guest guest stars. A criticism that becomes recurrent for the program. Last year, Marta Kauffman, one of the creators of the series, had justified the lack of people of color in the series. “We’ve always encouraged diverse people in our business, but I haven’t done enough,” Kauffman said, according to the site. Entertainment weekly.

A criticism that echoes the controversy sparked by the English daily The Independant in 2018. During an investigation, the British tabloid revealed that young people deplored Joey’s attitude towards women, Ross’s sickly possessiveness, and called the series homophobic, sexist and racist.

See also on Then24: Courteney Cox and Ed Sheeran Take on Monica and Ross’ Cult Dance in “Friends”

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