Large Oof: A Dissection of Gender Roles In “Friends”

The episode of Friends, “The One With the Male Nanny”, promotes the ideology that men must be manly and not show their emotions. Friends was a very popular show that ran from 1994 to 2004, raking in an average viewership of 52.5 million people. Clearly, Friends was a very influential show, but were all of its influences of viewers really positive? On November 6th, 2002, the episode “The One With the Male Nanny” was released. The episode was the 6th of the ninth season, right around the peak of its popularity during its run time. This episode is quite controversial as in it there is a new character, Sandy. Sandy is a male nanny who is hired by two of the shows leads, Ross and Rachel. Sandy is a very qualified, caring nanny, but he makes many of the male characters in the show, upset. The episode ends with Ross firing Sandy because he makes him very uncomfortable. This episode is controversial because it promotes the sexist belief that men should not show their emotions, or do things not typically perceived as manly. 

First of all, Ross automatically assumes Sandy is a girl. He is quite stunned when he opens the door to find a man. This shows the stereotype of how a man shouldn’t be a nanny or do anything feminine. Ross is perpetuating this untrue and unfair stereotype by assuming Sandy is a girl, and then reacting in a very shocked way when he was not. 

When Rachel is trying to convince Ross to hire Sandy, even though he’s a man, she says, ”so what he’s smart, hes qualified, give me one good reason we shouldn’t try him out!” Ross counters this by saying, “Because its weird!” Ross is countering all of Rachel’s logical and rational claims by saying its weird for a man to be a nanny. This shows a lot of sexism and how even the most qualified person who could be amazing at work, can be shut down because of their gender. The dominant ideology of ‘men should not do things perceived as feminine’ makes it so less qualified people get jobs that more qualified people who are seen as the ‘wrong’ gender for the job. This is both idiotic and unfair. 

When speaking about Sandy later in the episode, Ross says, ”He [Sandy] is too sensitive!” This is said by Ross in a very angry and almost disgusted tone. It shows how he and many others believe it is wrong for men to have emotions and be emotional. It shows how it almost disgusts many people to see an emotional man. It is spreading this message to the shows millions of fans, creating more people who will stereotype men this way. To show developing men that they must bottle up their feelings or they won’t be seen as a man could be very harmful. To show them they can’t be vulnerable or they will be called weak or a pussy. It is entirely unfair.

This is how the episode of Friends, “The One With the Male Nanny”, promotes the ideology that men shouldn’t do things that are perceived as feminine. It is so important to not promote this ideology because even today men are called weak and laughed at for showing emotions. Men need to be taught it is okay to be sensitive or emotional because when they bottle up their feelings that could lead to them exploding and lashing out, which leads to domestic abuse. Men can be sensitive. Men can be emotional. Men can cry. The people now need to accept it. 

The Old Blog is Dead! Long Live the Old Blog!

For many years, we used the Blogger platform for the American Studies blog. Since it is owned by Google, it integrates pretty seamlessly with your Google accounts — which made it easy to use, in some respects — but it is a very limited and bug-ridden platform. So this year, we have decided to construct a new class blog from scratch using the most more powerful and stable WordPress platform.

If you are interested, though, in seeing what past American Studies students have been thinking and writing about, feel free to wander over to the old blog.