Jennifer Aniston Responds to Claims That Friends Is Offensive

Jennifer Aniston Responds to Claims That Friends Is Offensive
Mar 2023

Reflecting on how some viewers find episodes of Friends "offensive," Jennifer Aniston said there wasn't "a sensitivity like there is now" back when the show was written.

This is the one where Jennifer Aniston reflects on Friends.

Jennifer recently addressed the controversy surrounding some Friends scenes, noting that comedy has shifted over time. The 54-year-old said that because of that change, many viewers respond to episodes of Friends differently than how audiences reacted when the TV series first aired from 1994 to 2004.

"There's a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of Friends and find them offensive," Jennifer told AFP. "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."

Digging deeper on the topic, Jennifer said that comedy has evolved in a way that can make it tough for entertainers.

"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," Jennifer said. "[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."

The Murder Mystery actress added, "Everybody needs funny! The world needs humor! We can't take ourselves too seriously. Especially in the United States. Everyone is far too divided."

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Jennifer is not the first Friends cast member to reflect on choices made for the show. Kathleen Turner, who portrayed Chandler Bing's transgender parent Helena Handbasket on Friends, noted in January that she would "probably not" take that part on in current times.

"There was no question of casting a trans person or a drag queen...it was never considered," Kathleen told The Guardian. "It never crossed my mind that I was taking a role from someone."

Back in July, Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman expressed regret for the way the show discussed Kathleen's character Helena.

"We kept referring to [Helena] as 'Chandler's father,' even though Chandler's father was trans," Marta told BBC's World Service's The Conversation at the time. "Pronouns were not yet something that I understood, so we didn't refer to that character as 'she.' That was a mistake."

Helena's storyline isn't the only area of regret Marta has admitted to. In June, the show's writer responded to critics who argued the series lacked diversity as it centered on six white friends.

"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. "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."