"They're very simple stories when you think about it, that just connect with everybody because that's what our lives are like."
Friends executive producer and director Kevin S Bright has hit back at critics of the US sitcom, declaring it has “aged really well”.
Friends ran from 1994 to 2004. However, the entire series was recently acquired by Netflix and, despite becoming the UK’s most-watched streaming show, has been reassessed by those watching in 2018. The show has faced a backlash for the lack of diversity in the cast, fast shaming and homophobic storylines.
However, Bright is standing by the show. He developed Friends alongside series creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman and directed many episodes across the show’s 10 seasons.
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Speaking to Digital Spy, Bright said: “I think, probably, if anything would change about the show, it would just be to reflect more what’s going on in the world that’s happening today, but not in a topical way – more in a cultural way.
“So I think it would reflect that. But other than that, I don’t think much would change. It’s a universal story. It was never about gimmicks, or aliens, or crazy flashback episodes – though we had a couple of those, I guess. It was about simple stories about relationships and people trying to make it in the world – loves won and lost.
“They’re very simple stories when you think about it, that just connect with everybody because that’s what our lives are like.”
He pointed to Comedy Central’s FriendsFest as proof of the show’s enduring popularity. “I think that’s very rare in a television show,” he said. “There are many other shows from that period that aren’t still on TV, that don’t have festivals built around them.
“You know, when we started, I was asked, ‘What would be your dream for the show?’ I said I’d like to be the Lucy of our generation – that whenever there’s a football game on Sunday and it runs early and they have to put something on, they’ll put on an episode of Friends, 50 years from now.
He credited Netflix for its impact on viewing figures and gaining traction with a younger audience who were able to binge watch all 10 seasons.
“Now, with Netflix and all of the cable exposure, it really has developed into something that, I have to say, we never even really dreamed of. So it’s just all so rewarding. Y’know, I’ll go out to a FriendsFest; I see the fans, and I see the genuine love of the show, and how it’s continued… I think that’s an amazing accomplishment for any TV show.”
In June, Karey Burke, one of the executives behind the original concept of the sitcom, recently said that it was suggested to the creators that the Friends cast be ‘more diverse’ – an idea that was rejected.
“I think now it might be a different conversation. I also think that was Gen X, and I think Millenials and subsequently Gen Z are far more diverse generations,” said Burke. “And I think to honestly serve those generations…it might feel a little tone deaf to not be more inclusive.”