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Jennifer Aniston Says ‘Friends’ Should Have ‘Thought Through’ Certain ‘Offensive’ Story Lines

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Jennifer Aniston David Fisher/Shutterstock

She’s there for you! Jennifer Aniston reflected on the criticism surrounding her hit show Friends — and claimed comedy has changed over time. 

Related: 'Friends' Cast: Where Are They Now?

“There’s a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of Friends and find them offensive,” Aniston told AFP in an interview published earlier this week. “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.”

The Murder Mystery star explained that it has become “tricky” for comedians over the years. “You’ve to be very careful,” she said, adding that “the beauty of comedy is that we make fun of ourselves” and “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,” she told the outlet. “And now we’re not allowed to do that. Everybody needs funny! The world needs humor! We can’t take ourselves too seriously. Especially in the United States. Everyone is far too divided.”

Aniston starred as Rachel Green on the NBC sitcom from 1994 to 2004 alongside Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc. While the show has maintained status as both a critical and fan darling, it has faced criticism for its absence of diversity. (Throughout its 10 season run, Friends only introduced two recurring characters who were people of color.)

In August 2022, Kudrow, 59, who portrayed Phoebe Buffay on the comedy, reflected on why creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane might have struggled to write more diverse story lines. 

“I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college,” the Opposite of Sex star told The Daily Beast at the time. “And for shows especially, when it’s going to be a comedy that’s character-driven, you write what you know. They have no business writing stories about the experiences of being a person of color.”

Kathleen Turner, who played the part of Chandler Bing’s transgender parent on Friends, told The Guardian in January that she probably would “not” have taken the role if it were offered to her today. 

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“There was no question of casting a trans person or a drag queen [for the part] … it was never considered,” the actress, 68, claimed. “It never crossed my mind that I was taking a role from someone.”

Kauffman, meanwhile, got candid about missteps she made while writing the character in July 2022, telling BBC World Service’s The Conversation, “Pronouns were not yet something that I understood, so we didn’t refer to that character as ‘she.’ That was a mistake.” 

She later made a $4 million donation to her alma mater, Brandeis University, to fund an endowed chair in the school’s African and African American studies department. 

“Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago,” Kauffman told The Los Angeles Times at the time. “I want to make sure from now on in every production I do that I am conscious in hiring people of color and actively pursue young writers of color. I want to know I will act differently from now on. And then I will feel unburdened.”

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She added, “I’ve gotten nothing but love. It’s been amazing. It surprised me to some extent because I didn’t expect the news to go this wide. I’ve gotten a flood of emails and texts and posts that have been nothing but supportive. I’ve gotten a lot of ‘It’s about time.’ Not in a mean way. It’s just people acknowledging it was long overdue.”

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