Lisa Kudrow says Friends cast wouldn't be 'all-white' if it were set today
The actress, who portrayed free-spirit Phoebe Buffay on the series for all 10 seasons, told The Sunday Times that if Friends took place today, "it’d be completely different. It would not be an all-white cast, for sure."
Including Phoebe, all six main characters on the show were white, as were the majority of their friends and acquaintances. Kudrow added that the series, which ran from 1994 to 2004, "should be looked at as a time capsule, not for what they did wrong."
She also noted the show was ahead of its times in other ways, referencing a storyline involving Ross (David Schwimmer) raising a child with his ex-wife Carol and her wife Susan.
“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," Kudrow said.
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Her comments come after Schwimmer recently told The Guardian he "was well aware of the lack of diversity" on Friends at the time and that he campaigned for Ross to date women of color.
“One of the first girlfriends I had on the show was an Asian-American woman, and later I dated African American women. That was a very conscious push on my part," he told the outlet in January.
Ross dated Julie (Lauren Tom) in seasons 1-2 and Charlie Wheeler (Aisha Tyler) in seasons 9-10. Tyler's character was only the second major supporting role played by a black actress on the show, the first being Gabrielle Union's turn as Kristen, the object of both Ross and Joey's affections in season 7.
With the Friends reunion special in the pipeline at HBO Max, perhaps the cast, which also includes Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, and Matthew Perry, will have a deeper discussion on the show's diversity. The special won't debut when the platform launches May 27 but will join all 236 episodes of the NBC series on the streaming service at a later date.