Jennifer Aniston, 54, is well aware that some of the things that came out of her iconic character of Rachel Green‘s mouth on Friends aren’t resonating with younger fans — and even offending them. “There’s a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of Friends and find them offensive,” she said in a chat with the French news agency AFP that was published on March 27 (via Yahoo News). “There were things that were never intentional and others… well, we should have thought it through — but I don’t think there was a sensitivity like there is now.”
Her comment about the Emmy-winning series, which ran from 1994 to 2004, came during a bigger discussion about how comedy has evolved over the last 30 years. “Now it’s a little tricky because you have to be very careful, which makes it really hard for comedians, because the beauty of comedy is that we make fun of ourselves, make fun of life,” Jen explained. “[In the past] you could joke about a bigot and have a laugh — that was hysterical. And it was about educating people on how ridiculous people were. And now we’re not allowed to do that.”
In her opinion, she thinks everyone needs to loosen up. “Everybody needs funny! The world needs humor!” she pressed. “We can’t take ourselves too seriously. Especially in the United States. Everyone is far too divided.”
Friends has most notably come under fire for its lack of diversity in the cast. The six stars — Jen, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer — were all straight, white men and women. The only people of color who were featured on the show were cast in small parts.
Last year, Lisa, 59, who played Phoebe Buffay, came to the defense of the show’s creators, Marta Kauffman and David Crane. “I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college. And for shows especially, when it’s going to be a comedy that’s character-driven, you write what you know,” she told the Daily Beast. “They have no business writing stories about the experiences of being a person of color. I think at that time, the big problem that I was seeing was, ‘Where’s the apprenticeship?’”
Her comment came after Marta admitted she felt “embarrassed” and so much “guilt” for the show’s lack of diversity in a June 2022 chat with the Los Angeles Times. She was so moved by her guilty conscious that she donated $4 million to her alma mater, Brandeis University, to create the Marta F. Kauffman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies.
The show has also been looked down upon for how it included the LGBTQ+ community in its script. For instance, Chandler’s father was transgender and even had a drag show. Chandler, however, often used a dead name for his dad. “I don’t think it’s aged well,” Kathleen Turner, who played Chandler’s dad, told The Gay Times in 2018. “It was a 30-minute sitcom. It became a phenomenon, but no-one ever took it seriously as a social comment.”