A certain ‘quality’…

F.R.I.E.N.D.S, dare I say, has to be the best sitcom ever to be made. Although F.R.I.E.N.D.S began its broadcast well before some of us millennials were born, it has still managed to capture our hearts and cracked us up. The characters are on a comedic and romantic journey through their life issues such as their career and personal lives. The 6 main characters had and maintained their very distinct character roles from start to end. In this post I intend to explore the character of Chandler, with specific interest in the scenes where he is thought of as gay or feminine.

Gender and Sexuality

Throughout the series, despite it being vividly clear his sexual orientation, Chandler was mistaken to be gay. The clip shows part of the episode where he was mistaken to be gay and tries to find out what about him screams out as gay. Much to his annoyance, all anyone could tell him was that he had a certain “quality”.

In fact, I believe that Chandler actually lacks a certain “quality” that makes him appear to be gay. From a heteronormative angle, Chandler is insufficiently masculine. He is interested in activities indexed to be feminine (in other episodes Chandler had candle lit soaks in bathtubs with bath salts or did threading). By performing these gender acts (Butler , 1990)

, typically indexed to be female, Chandler’s gender is questioned. In a sense, Chandler is ‘less of a man’ as he performing the ‘female’ role. It can then be said that being gay is more about gender than it is about one’s actual sexuality. (Cameron & Kulick, 2003)

Chandler’s character therefore brings up the differentiation between gender and sexuality. First it is important to clearly define gender and sexuality. Gender, refers to the socially constructed characteristics that stereotypical men and women possess while sexuality refers to sexual orientation and identity in relation to which gender they are attracted to. In F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Chandler’s gender is perpetually in question, even when he is married to a woman. However at the same time, Chandler’s sexual orientation is blatant in the sense that he dates, sleeps with, marries and only talks about women. Therein the difference between gender and sexuality.

Gendered sexuality

Here it stands to get rather confusing. On the assumption that everyone is heterosexual, Chandler performing acts that are indexed to be feminine, Chandler’s heterosexuality is questioned. His F.R.I.E.N.D.S start to think that he may be gay and us viewers also follow suit. Hence, Chandler’s situation can also be seen as a case of gendered sexuality where Chandler’s gender (male exhibiting some female traits) is causing his perceived gay sexuality.

Other observations from the show

In conclusion, the show that spanned 10 years and captured countless hearts was homophobic in my opinion. In specific, towards male homosexuals. Female homosexuals, in the contrary were not frowned upon. For example, there was Ross (another main character) who was laughed at for marrying a lady who turned out to be a lesbian. He eventually even played a part in her wedding to another woman; the woman who broke his marriage. Chandler on the other hand spent the entire show having his sexuality questioned even though he was clearly heterosexual. Also, Chandler’s father in the show turned out to be a transgender who worked as a drag queen. Chandler was shown to be in disgust of this and even refused to speak to his father for years. Chandler also attributes some of his more (indexical) feminine acts to be from his father. For example, he used to do threading for his father and his other friends who performed as drag queens for pocket money. He tried his best to hide such ‘acts of feminism’ unless he was put in a situation that demanded it. Here the producers could be trying to portray that upbringing plays a part in gender and sexuality of a person.


Butler , J. (1990). Gender Trouble. Routledge

Cameron, D., & Kulick, D. (2003). Language and Sexuality. Stockhom Universitet.




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