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Jennifer Aniston has been a household name across the United States ever since starring in Friends from 1995-2004. While the 54-year-old has enjoyed a very successful acting year since Friends ended, her role as Rachel Green in the hit comedy sitcom is still her most popular.
Friends is a show that has been passed on from generation to generation without any complications, until recently. There are now young critics of the show who say that the show lacks diversity and that many of the jokes and characters haven’t aged well.
Speaking at the launch of her latest movie, Netflix’s Murder Mystery 2. Aniston has opened up about these critics and the evolution of comedy. She said:
“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. 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.
There’s a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of ‘Friends’ and find them offensive. There were things that were intentional and others that we should have thought through, but I don’t think there was a sensitivity like there is now.
Everybody needs funny, the world needs humor! We can’t take ourselves too seriously. Especially in the United States. Everyone is far too divided.”
Could Friends Ever Return?
Given the claims of racism, sexism, and general bigotry that are now fired in the direction of Friends, it seems unlikely that the show will ever return. In the 20 years since the show wrapped up, there have been countless rumors about its return but we now seem further away than ever.
The world has changed a great deal since 2004 meaning that if it did return in today’s day and age, it would likely look very different. Lisa Kudrow, who starred as Phoebe Buffay in the popular sitcom, made headlines recently by saying that the show wouldn’t have an “all-white cast” if it returned.
Kudrow believes that the show’s lack of diversity stemmed from the fact creators of the show, David Crane and Marta Kauffman, had no experience with people of different ethnicities so didn’t feel comfortable telling stories about them. She said:
“I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college. For a character-driven comedy, the creators are going to write about what they know. They have no business writing stories about the experiences of being a person of color.”
The recent criticism of Friends has clearly had an effect on Marta Kauffman. She announced last July that she had donated $4 million to create the Marta F. Kauffman ‘78 Professorship in African and African American Studies at Brandeis University due to the “embarrassment and guilt” she feels over the lack of diversity in Friends.
The program at Brandeis will “support a distinguished scholar with a concentration in the study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.”
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