Why your favorite sitcom characters are secretly terrible people

Julia Fabrizio, Features & Lifestyle Editor

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Why all your favorite sitcom characters are secretly terrible people

Arguably, sitcoms may be the best genre on television. Sitcoms, or situational comedies, are comedies that center on the same cast and storyline throughout the series. The main appeal of these shows is often their relatability and comedic themes.

People like sitcoms because they can relate to them and they make them laugh. And while that relatability and comedy seem to have a positive impact on audiences, I think sitcoms can actually often have a negative impact on society for all the same reasons.

The main appeal to sitcoms is their comedy format that is portrayed by relatable characters and storylines, but I think these traits are often dangerous. This may sound dramatic, but these shows all feature “real life” situations but in an exaggerated manner so to make them funny. This can cause people to confuse right and wrong, especially if they truly idolize a show and its characters.

The first example that comes to mind is one of the most popular sitcoms of all time: “Friends.” People love this show, debatably too much. But a lot of the friends’ actions are pretty awful because it makes for funnier TV. Unfortunately, this is often overlooked and because people love the show so much, I fear it can have a negative effect on their ethics.

One primary argument that is often debated about the show is how little time Ross actually spends with his son. But even I understand that producers probably chose to take the son out of the show so they could focus more on the friends. So, I will provide more examples.

In season four, when Chandler is sleeping with Rachel’s boss, Joanna, Chandler handcuffs her to her desk at the end of the episode and leaves her there overnight without a care in the world. I understand this was supposed to be a funny component of the show, but that is truly awful. In season one, when Rachel is working as a waitress at Central Perk, she asks customers for an advance on her tips so she can go on a ski trip. Similarly in season 10, Phoebe changes her mind about donating to a charity and takes the money back. These things would not be ok to do in real life, but the exaggerated and comedic storylines are what make people enjoy the show. Unfortunately, if people become too attached to the show, or possibly watch it at a very young age, it may confuse their morals. Why can’t I take my money back from charity? My favorite character in my favorite show just did it on TV last week.

It’s not just “Friends.” Another popular sitcom, “The Office,” is guilty of this as well. Jim is constantly pranking Dwight, often to an inappropriate extent that would not be tolerated at any job. Dwight stores weapons throughout the office and purposefully tried to burn it down to see how his coworkers would react in a real emergency. And we can’t forget Michael, who is just dangerously idiotic. All these antics are hilarious when watching from your couch, but if this was real it would be a totally different story.

It’s interesting though because in “Seinfeld,” all the bad things the characters did throughout the show’s run comes back to bite them in the finale, and they all end up in jail. But most shows don’t do this. The main characters are the good guys, and producers would rather maintain an idyllic view of their characters through the whole series and let their terrible, yet hilarious, antics go unpunished and sometimes even praised.

Overall, I do think sitcoms have a positive impact in that they entertain people with realistic and relatable situations, even though sometimes the storylines are exaggerated for comedic purposes. Most of the bad influences in these shows are simply there to be funny. I just think that when people become extremely attached to a show and its characters, which many fans did for the shows I have mentioned, it has the potential to be harmful and make people confuse right and wrong. While sitcoms are meant to make funny characters, they can also make bad people.