I'll Be There to Sue

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A former assistant on Friends is suing the show's writers and studios for harassment. The Times of India describes her allegations:

Male writers on the hit sitcom Friends joked about wanting to have sex with the female stars, according to a lawsuit filed by a former show assistant.

According to a website [blogger's note: that may be the lamest attribution in the history of journalism], the scribes also questioned the sexuality of star David Schwimmer, who plays Ross, and joked about turning Matt LeBlanc?s character Joey into a serial rapist…

"I would have to listen to comments about the sexual conduct many of the writers would like to do with Courteney Cox (Monica) and Jennifer Aniston," the complaint said. "They would make jokes about whether Courteney Cox was competently sexually servicing her boyfriend at the time, David Arquette."

The writers deny the charges, while also asserting that talk about sex is a "creative necessity" for writing the series.

Much as I relish the thought of punishing anyone involved with producing Friends, I have to stick with my principles here and say that the government has no business interfering with workplace banter. Still, with a Friends spinoff called Joey in the works, I'm starting to wonder whether a chilling effect is an entirely bad thing.

[Thanks to Sara Rimensyder for the tip.]

Update: The unidentified website turns out to be—of course—The Smoking Gun. You can read the plaintiff's harassment claim here.

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  1. The website is the Smoking Gun which has the documentation of her allegations. In this case, the attribution is pretty solid.

  2. Come on, nearly every episode is a 22-minute sex joke, and this woman’s complaining about the show’s writers talking about sex?! Oh, and she also mentions that the white, male writing assistants all had their computers connected to the network while she had to wait six whole weeks.

    Reminds me of a student a few years back who filed sexual harrassment charges against three different faculty members over a 14-15 month span (fortunately she was never in one of my classes, or I’d have likely been another target – how dare I as a white man try to explore race, gender, and power in THE COLOR PURPLE?!). After the third charge, someone either convinced her that she didn’t have a leg to stand on or that she should find a university whose culture was more in line with her worldview.

    Some folks just ain’t happy unless they got something to bitch about, and a platform from which to bitch.

  3. It’s a bit odd that such charges would arise in relation to a show with so much sexual humor.

    It’s a bit like a stripper suing the strip club because people were looking at her.

    I’m inclined to think the suit is based on someone trying to get a tidy nest egg to tide her over after the show goes off the air and the gravy train stops.

    I mean, hell, Cox and Arquette married FIVE YEARS AGO. He hasn’t been “her boyfriend” since 1999.

    Why wait until 2004, just before the show ends, before filing suit, if it was such a problem?

  4. jesse walker,

    “…I have to stick with my principles here and say that the government has no business interfering with workplace banter”

    isn’t this a private party suing another private party? is there a govt involvement (other than the necessary one of the judicial branch) that I missed in your post?

    As for the lawsuit, another reason why “loser pays” system looks good.

  5. It’s a private suit, but the cause of action is statutory.

  6. Since nobody’s posted the obligatory “I can’t be bothered with popular culture” comment, I’ll have to jump in:

    What is this Friends you’re talking about? I’ve never heard of it. Who are these “Joey” and “Rachel” people of whom I’ve never heard because I never watch television? Don’t you people realize there’s more important news? Stop wasting my time with this frippery! I’ll have to have my maid Argrippina bring me in a hot toddy and my volume of Nozick just to clear my head of this tomfoolery.

  7. Cavanaugh wins the thread.

  8. That complaint at TSG is awfully repetitive.

    It mentions in several places that a particular writer had a cheerleader fetish and blowjobs.

  9. So that kind of talk is sexual harrassment? I better stop opening my mouth at work.

  10. I don’t think it’s about trying to get a nest egg – although that may be part of it.

    I think it starts with the ‘Offended Victim’ stance she and so many other people choose to take in these kinds of circumstances.

    Overly sensitive assistant perceives raucus bathroom humor to be inappropriate so she is offended.

    Compounding factors are that she’s a victim because she has to stay in this environment because she wants to work in the industry and it would sure look bad if she spoke up and then she’d be blackballed and no one would want her anymore…blah friggin blah (I can keep this up but I won’t).

    Modern victim culture has convinced her that she can throw off the victim’s yoke by finally standing up demanding justice.

    So she does just that and winds up not looking like a hero but like a dumbass. She’ll probably have a hard time in the industry because NOONE wants to work with someone who’ll sue you for a stupid reason.

    She’ll go to her grave in quixotic fashion screaming about the day she stood up to those bastards and how the corrupt and unjust American white male system.

    Oh My God….This is giving me a sitcom idea…”First there was ‘Friends’…Now, we bring you ‘Enemies'”.

  11. Here are Lonewacko’s picks:

    58. I saw [‘Friends’ writer] Greg Malins draw in the coloring book the vaginal area of a cheerleader who had her dress up and legs open.

    …68. I heard [‘Friends’ writer] Chase once rhetorically asked [sic] the group, of Cox and Arquette, “do you think they fuck in the dressing room”. [sic]

    …74. [Three of the writers] regularly discussed make the character Joey a serial rapist…

    …77. [Three of the writers used the terms] “dick,” “schlong,” and “cock.”

    …83. I can recall sitting around waiting to go home while writers were sitting around pretending to masturbate and continually talking about schlongs.

    The fact that her declaration contains a few grammatical errors does not speak well of her attys.

    Anyone have any Jennifur Aniston fakes?

  12. Any chance that a successful lawsuit will eat up the seed capital for “Joey”?

  13. Zorel,
    “loser pays” is the only tort reform needed!

    Now I remember why I cut off my TV back in `93.

  14. Madpad: {…”First there was ‘Friends’…Now, we bring you ‘Enemies'”.}

    BTDT: From Dallas to Melrose Place. And that doesn’t include the daytime soap operas.

    Friends was a huge improvement.

  15. …74. [Three of the writers] regularly discussed make the character Joey a serial rapist…

    I think this spinoff has definite potential.

  16. Yeah, I’m getting tired of all the “cop” shows on TV. They need to explore the other side as well…

    A nice show were the murderers and rapists elude the cops week after week would be a breath of fresh air.

  17. Madog- that show is called “The Sopranos.”

    By the way, loser pays works for me too.

  18. Further proof that Tim Cavanaugh never has anything insightful to say.

  19. Jesse’s asleep at the wheel … this entry should definitely have been titled “The One Where I Sue You.”

  20. This complaint is from 2002. I believe it has already been thrown out.

  21. Nope. It’s been reinstated.

  22. Hollywood Babylon ain’t what it used to be. I mean, none of these Friendsters are even dead. What fun is that.

  23. Another title could have been “Talk to the penis.”

  24. If I post here that I want to have sex with Jennifer Aniston, will that get Reason.com sued?

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