Anyone remember the Friends episode, “The One Where Ross Geller Destroyed Western Civilization?”

On Sunday, Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russia’s state-owned news channel Russia Today, went on another state-run propaganda network Channel 1 to answer questions about the dwindling support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Simonyan attempted to divert outrage over a failing war effort towards the cultural demise of the West, which she blamed on Friends, a sitcom she described as “The very first gurgles of now already boiling ultra-liberal borscht.” It’s gonna be her blood that’s boiling when she discovers Will and Grace.

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"They're mad that we're losing the war? PIVOT!"

In a bizarre video that was graciously translated by Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs Anton Gerashchenko, Simonyan expertly spun a question about the dubious motivations behind her country’s ongoing war in Ukraine by claiming that the invasion is a war to prevent the children of Russia from being raised in a society as dystopian and morally bankrupt as that of America post-Friends:

“What is this fight all about? This war is for our right to have our children be like us and not like them,” Simonyan answered when questioned about the investment that Russian civilians should feel in a war that they were told would last just a couple weeks but has spanned nine months and cost over ten thousand Russian lives.

Simonyan then spoke of her time as a student in the United States in the early ‘90s. “30 years ago, when I myself studied in the States, it seemed we are so similar. And we really were alike,” Simonyan recalled, “It was just beginning then – the very first gurgles of now already boiling ultra-liberal borscht – they were so small then, it was hard to notice them.”

What was the harbinger of this warm, brothy, cultural apocalypse? Why, David Crane’s megahit sitcom Friends, of course! “Let me remind you that the first episode begins with the main character (Ross) who enters, confused and sad,” said Simonyan, seemingly forgetting that most episodes of Friends began with Ross entering, confused and sad, “Why is he confused and sad? Because his wife left, left for a woman, discovering after several years of marriage that she was a lesbian. And all this is shown so sympathetically: she seems to be right, but he is not quite right.” 

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This is what the liberals stole from us.

Gurgling, boiling, soupy doom indeed. This past Thursday, Russian lawmakers unanimously approved a bill that banned the spreading of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” an extension of a 2013 law that criminalized educating children on LGBTQ issues. Distracting the public from the pressing failures of their government with hysterical bigotry is sadly a tactic that Russian and American politicians share, but the bold-facedness of this trick has never stretched the imagination so far as to attempt to convince voters that the reason they should support their country’s costly and brutal war is that they need to save Ross Geller’s marriage. 

Also, apparently the Russian word for lesbian is “lesbiyanka,” which sounds like a Russian rip-off of Tank Girl.

Simonyan then betrayed a bit of admiration for Friends, saying, “It was also impossible to notice frenzied propaganda in this, because it was so rare, so fresh, so interesting.” Only a seasoned propagandist would be able to blame a sitcom for the demise of Western culture while simultaneously praising it, like she's writing for the Russian version of TV Guide.

As abhorrent as it is for a person of such influence to try to use homophobia to fuel fervor for a brutal invasion, Simonyan’s bizarre Friends takes give us a chance to laugh at the absurdity of Russian bigotry and warmongering. It’s hard to believe that any Russian civilian would find the threat of living in a post-Friends society to be a good reason to lay down their life in a losing war, but that’s how Simonyan sees it. Said Simonyan, “We’ll either save ourselves – the way we have to do it now, or we’ll be there.” 

Pretty sure the line is “I’ll be there for you.

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