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Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham in gilmore girls
Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham in gilmore girls
Saeed Adyani/Netflix
Culture

Characters From the 90s and 2000s Who Are Walking Red Flags in 2022

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Please don’t cancel me after reading this.

If you too fantasized about saying “I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her” to your first crush and then immediately running back home in the rain, crying “Mera pehla pyaar adhura reh gaya, Rifat bi” when they ultimately rejected you, then don’t worry, you’re not alone – nearly every 90s and 2000s pop culture afficionado is guilty of the same. The 90s and the 2000s tv and movies undoubtedly gave us some of the most memorable dialogues ( “But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.ugh, still iconic) and characters of this generation. However a closer look and a second watch would reveal that many of our most beloved characters were not just not iconic, but also extremely toxic and walking red flags. The following are 11 characters from the 90s and the 2000s who are actually so problematic that Poo from K3G wouldn’t even give them a minus:

  1. Lily Aldrin, How I Met Your Mother : This one might not come as a surprise to many, because truth be told, Lily was The Worst TM . Her character was extremely meddlesome and judgmental when it came to Ted’s girlfriends and she went to great lengths to try and break them up whenever they didn’t meet her approval. Not just this, she ditched Marshall time and again to run off to Italy, Spain and California just because she couldn’t take the heat of the situation. The writers might have tried to do some damage control to her character by showing her to be wanting the best for everyone, but honestly, she ended up being just annoying.
  2. Susheela, Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon : If there’s one woman who just needs to chill out, it’s this lady. Susheela’s entire logic for trying to convince Sanjana to leave Hrithik Roshan’s Prem and fall in love with Abhishek Bachchan’s Prem (cause money, duh) is that because they haven’t had sex, she should have no problem falling for the new guy. The whole argument is just completely illogical and baseless and openly shows Susheela’s money mindedness. “Toh problem kya hai?” Aunty, you. You are the problem.
  3. Radhe Mohan, Tere Naam : The early 2000s were turbulent times when the shackles of patriarchy around our society were ironclad and women were believed to have massive crushes on ‘bad boys‘. Salmaan Khan’s Radhe Mohan from Tere Naam (or if you really think about it, the OG Kabir Singh) was a by-product of this exact design. Radhe’s character was the epitome of toxic masculinity and totally glorified stalking and sending casual death threats to your crush about beating her dad up if she didn’t agree to your proposal. While Radhe Bhaiya’s these tactics might have earned him a ticket to his crush’s heart back then; in today’s era it was bound to have earned him a one way ticket to the jail.
  4. Tom Hansen, 500 Days of Summer : While initially you might feel that Summer was the villain of the movie for breaking Tom’s heart, it was actually the weight of Tom’s expectations from Summer that makes him the antagonist of his own story. Summer never wanted a relationship and Tom’s outright refusal to accept that by basically saying that because he wanted it, they had to be in a relationship makes Tom’s character extremely toxic and a big no-no.
  5. Kailashnath Malhotra, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke : While the whole movie is a car crash and a huge billboard of misinformation, let us talk about Amrish Puri’s character, Kailashnath Malthotra. Kailashnath is the typical glorified, regressive and patriarchal head of the family who desperately wants a great grandchild, but the child must be a boy. He has a heart attack and therefore uses it as the typical leverage to force his grandson to get started on the baby making ‘par-pota’ making process. The sexism and patriarchy just oozes out of this man. He is also super insensitive because the day Priya comes back from the hospital after suffering a miscarriage, he consoles her by saying that they are going to hear the laugh of a child son in their house within a year and that she doesn’t need to worry. Honestly, 90s and 2000s Bollywood ‘family value’ centered films scare me and I’m glad these are not the values we carried forward.
  6. Ron Weasley, Harry Potter Series : *dodges 3 eggs and a flying shoe* I’m sorry about this, but it is true. Harry Potter as a series might have been everything we could have ever wanted from a book, but we simply cannot ignore how problematic Ron Weasley’s character was. Just because he did two good things in the entire series, we cannot forget that he was extremely sexist, totally immature and almost completely depended on his so-called best friends for lugging around his weight. He slut shamed Ginny on multiple occasions, basically snogged Lavender to piss Hermione off at Slughorn’s party because she had gone out with Krum two years ago and then, had gone on to call Lavender problematic for liking him! Double standards much, Ron?
  7. Raj Malhotra, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge : King Khan might have stolen every girl’s heart in the 90s with his mandolin and the oh-so-suave moves of Raj Malhotra, but believe me, the ‘moves’ he pulled on Simran were anything, but that. Pretty sure that shoving a bra in a stranger’s face and bodily slumping on them to get their attention counts as harassment, Raj. Other than this, he is extremely passive aggressive and casually jokes about having slept with Simran while she is unconscious and then goes on to mansplain about how he knows Simran is ‘sanskaari’ because she obviously freaked out on him when he basically told her that he had raped her. He does not respect Simran’s views on anything and in conclusion is not at all a chivalrous knight in shining armour, but rather just a patriarchal villainous douchebag.
  8. Rory Gilmore, Gilmore Girls : Rory Gilmore’s character started off as a sweet and innocent, hard working student, determined to go to Harvard but gradually snow-balled into a self-destructive and awfully conceited lead. She is problematic in more ways than one. She cheats on her boyfriend, sleeps with a married man, doesn’t take accountability, never learns from her mistakes and literally drops out of college because a professor offered her one piece of criticism. She even goes on to fight with her biggest supporter, her mom and is just one of those characters who is too privileged for her own good.
  9. Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother : Neil Patrick Harris may be one of the most inclusive and considerate people in real life, but his character, Barney Stinson, despite being hilarious and a fan favorite, was really a monumental jerk. The guy made an entire playbook of rules just to get women to sleep with him, manipulated and lied to them for the same and was extremely sexist, misogynistic and openly fat shamed. Barney Stinson might have been cool in the 2000s, but in view of the current socio-cultural scenario, he is a walking red flag.
  10. Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and The City : At this point, how and why Carrie Bradshaw remains to be an icon, is absolutely beyond me. Carrie’s character may be idolized for being an independent woman in her 30s with an amazing fashion sense and her own apartment in NYC, but reality is she was an extremely vain, self-centered and judgmental person. When Samantha, her absolute ride or die, is in chemo instead of acting as a moral support to her friend she goes on to talk about her boy troubles. When Miranda, who had been for her whenever Carrie needed her, needs her help the one time, Carrie sends her boyfriend over for the rescue mission and Miranda has to live through the embarrassment of being found naked on the bathroom floor by him. For a sex columnist, Carrie is extremely prudish and outright discards bisexuality and makes poor jokes about alcoholism, and Carrie always makes a conversation about her problems, regardless the severity of her friend’s issue. The only time she ever willingly discusses their life is when she can use their complications as fodder for her column. This does not even begin to cover her other many flaws and toxic traits and overall, she is just a terrible friend, girlfriend and majorly sucks at adulting.
  11. Rahul Khanna, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai : If there is one super sexist and superficial character that surpasses every other character from the 2000s and 90s, it’s Rahul from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The entire premise of his character – that he does not recognize or acknowledge Anjali’s love when they are in college because she is a tomboy but then falls flat for her the moment she grows hair and puts on a saree – is just a pitiful excuse and awfully sexist. Not to mention, although he finds Tina ‘hot and sexy’, he only deems her worthy of taking home once she sings Om Jai Jagdish, however, later on in the movie, he essentially admits that he is embarrassed of the fact that he goes to the temple thereby implying that he feels emasculated by his religious beliefs. Looking back, Rahul is definitely not someone you would like to date

While it is difficult calling out our favorites and picking flaws in the hero image we have of them in our heads, it is our responsibility to recognize the needs of the evolving times and not be ignorant. That brings us to yet another question: while we certainly have made quite some progress on all of these sensitive issues and altered our take and stance on them for the better, when will we truly be able to shed the prejudice that accompanies them? How can we finally function as a society that addresses the various social issues with due respect and not just makes light of them with crude jokes and off hand comments? It’s a long race, and there certainly are many hurdles, but it’s progress and at the end of the day, that is what matters.

Devanshi Mitra

Delhi South '24

Devanshi is a physics major and you are most likely to find her either doing something borderline illegal or cocooned in a blanket with her nose buried in a book and Taylor Swift blaring in her ears - there's no in between. An exuberant optimist and a firm believer of 'no judgement', when things go south, she'll be there to make it feel like home.
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