It’s been 22 years since the first episode of Friends aired and 12 years since the finale. Let that sink in for a moment.
What’s crazy, is that over a decade since it left our screens, the majority of the globe is just as obsessed with the sitcom as they were on day one. At the beginning of January, all 10 seasons were made available on *Netflix, *our worlds imploded last week when news of a ‘reunion’ surfaced (sadly, not strictly true) and we all lost our shit when we realised the cast occasionally had stand-ins.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of Friends. Groundbreaking isn’t an exaggeration. Relationships were gritty and problematic. Casual sex was celebrated not rebuked. Career paths were anything but straight. There was even an ugly naked guy across the road. Things were complicated, not seamless. Just like real life.
On top of this, there wasn’t a ‘star’. The six friends held more clout together than a single person could ever have done and producers realised that. People could have a ‘favourite’ (Ross, in case you’re wondering). As A.V Club notes, it unequivocally changed the sitcom landscape, breaking away from typical formats and providing a breath of fresh air in the stale world of cheesy American shows. Here, a mixed group of actual friends appealed to an entire generation (and beyond) because of its dedication to reality.
It’s impossible to downplay the role of Friends in shaping both the TV we watch today, and even our attitudes. They were awkward, embarrassing, unlucky in love, skint. Things were unconventional. Hell, Phoebe gave birth to her brother’s children and Monica briefly thought Chandler had a shark fetish.
There’s one thing, though. One tiny niggling thing. A topic in which, if I’m really honest, Friends really let us down: periods.
Ten years worth of air time and only once did producers see fit to mention periods – when Chandler and Monica are figuring out the best time to have sex to get pregnant (‘The One Where Rachel Has A Baby’).
Every year, Monica, Rachel and Phoebe spent 84 days (approximately) on their period. Collectively, they had 360 periods over the course of the show. The series existed for 3,650 days and 840 of those days would have involved at least one of them being on their period.
That’s quite a lot.
Despite this, there’s no scene with Rachel sat on the loo, shouting for Monica to chuck her a tampon. No chat about girls ‘syncing’ because they live together. Leaking on a brand new pair of jeans wasn’t a thing. The paranoia of being constantly convinced that you have Toxic Shock Syndrome wasn’t addressed. Period sex didn’t come up.
Please, please correct me if I’m wrong. I want to be wrong. Trust me. Because surely it can’t be that one of the defining shows of my (our) youth failed to mention something so huge. Something that happens monthly. Something that, ironically, often made me crave the comfort of Friends thanks to hellish PMS.
Periods: the topic that Friends forgot about.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.