Friends star Lisa Kudrow has opened-up about the backlash to the show’s all-white cast, admitting it “should be looked at as a time capsule”.
While the sitcom has remained incredibly popular 16 years after going off-air, there have been recent criticisms at the lack of diversity in its main cast, as well as transphobic, sexist and racist jokes.
Speaking about the cast, Kudrow — who played Phoebe Buffay — admitted that while she had no regrets about appearing on the show, she imagines there would be more diversity if the series was made today.
“Oh, it’d be completely different,” she told The Sunday Times. “Well, it would not be an all-white cast, for sure. I’m not sure what else, but, to me, it should be looked at as a time capsule, not for what they did wrong.
Kudrow added that the show “thought it was very progressive”, noting: “There was a guy whose wife discovered she was gay and pregnant, and they raised the child together? We had surrogacy too. It was, at the time, progressive.”
She also pondered over why the show remained so popular, explaining: “It’s also about people connecting, and part of what appeals about it now is that young people have this unconscious nostalgia for personal connection. And not just right now during the pandemic, but before that.”
Kudrow’s co-star David Schwimmer previously dismissed claims that the series was transphobic, racist and sexist.
“I don’t care,” he said. “The truth is also that show was groundbreaking in its time for the way in which it handled so casually sex, protected sex, gay marriage and relationships. The pilot of the show was my character’s wife left him for a woman and there was a gay wedding, of my ex and her wife, that I attended.
“I feel that a lot of the problem today in so many areas is that so little is taken in context. You have to look at it from the point of view of what the show was trying to do at the time.”
He added: “I’m the first person to say that maybe something was inappropriate or insensitive, but I feel like my barometer was pretty good at that time. I was already really attuned to social issues and issues of equality.”
Meanwhile, the cast of Friends are due to reunite for a one-off special for HBO Max, which was recently delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, it has been reported that the special could resume filming this summer.