‘Friends’: Lisa Kudrow Pushes Back On Criticism of White-Dominated Cast

Friends remains one of the most popular American sitcoms, especially given its availability on Netflix. However, some modern viewers of the show are starting to feel as though it’s dated. They point out that the show exhibits an array of problematic jokes and situations when viewed from a modern perspective. This includes the show’s all-white cast of main characters. However, Lisa Kudrow isn’t so convinced that this is the right way to address the show’s problems. 

David Schwimmer chimes in on ‘Friends’ criticism

David Schwimmer of Friends
David Schwimmer of Friends | Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for The Rape Foundation

Younger viewers of Friends have begun pointing out its various issues. These range from using fat folks and LGBTQ+ folks as punchlines for jokes. These criticisms also often involve the main cast, which consisted of only white actors. 

While there were occasionally people of color on the show in side roles, their stories were often minimal. David Schwimmer claims that he used to campaign for more representation, to a degree. 

Schwimmer told The Guardian, “I was well aware of the lack of diversity.” He added, “I campaigned for years to have Ross 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.”

As for newer fans pointing out the issues with the show, Schwimmer replied, “I don’t care.” He went on to claim that what matters is how groundbreaking the show was at the time. 

Schwimmer claimed, “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.”

Lisa Kudrow responds to criticism

Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, and Lisa Kudrow
Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, and Lisa Kudrow | Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images for SAG-AFTRA Foundation

Lisa Kudrow had similar replies to criticisms from younger fans. The Friends star doesn’t quite agree with those criticisms, saying that the show doesn’t deserve to be viewed from the perspective of what it did wrong. 

Kudrow told The Times that if the show was produced today, “Oh, it’d be completely different. Well, it would not be an all-white cast, for sure.”

She went on to add, “I’m not sure what else, but, to me, it should be looked at as a time capsule, not for what they did wrong.”

Like Schwimmer, Kudrow went on to say that she thought the show as particularly progressive for its time. Kudrow said, “This show thought it was very progressive,” Kudrow said. “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.”

Fans react to Lisa Kudrow’s comments

Lisa Kudrow of Friends
Lisa Kudrow of Friends | David Livingston/Getty Images

Fan reactions to Lisa Kudrow’s comments were mixed. Some felt as though her claims held water, while others weren’t so sure. 

One Redditor chimed in with, “I think this is a silly claim because as a black man living in a similar city (London) I know plenty of white folk that have no black people in their social circles.”

“It’s probably more likely and more realistic for a white person to hangout with 5 other white people than for them to have added a black Chandler and an Asian Phoebe,” wrote another.

Another user pointed out the flaw in these comments, however, adding, “These criticisms aren’t new, I distinctly remember hearing about these when the show was airing, since I would watch it live. There was even a sketch on SNL or madTV that made fun of this, like one day a black guy shows up and the group are confused as to what he is. All that being said, all the people that say what’s the problem with an all white cast are missing the point. There’s no issue with an all white cast. But when all the shows you watch are an all white cast, it affects people, even if subconsciously.”