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Lisa Kudrow says Friends wouldn’t have an all-white cast today, but argues the show was progressive

Lisa Kudrow has said that while the Friends cast wouldn’t be completely white if the show were made today, the sitcom did other things she thought were progressive for the time.

56-year-old Kudrow played Phoebe Buffay on the series, which aired from 1994 to 2004, but as Friends prepares to make a comeback for a reunion special, it has recently been criticized for its lack of diversity.

The actress admitted in a new interview that the show – also featuring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc – would be different in 2020, but defended the decisions made in the broadcast in the 1990s.

“Oh, it would be very different,” Kudrow told British newspaper The Sunday Times. “Well, it certainly wouldn’t be an all-white cast.”

Lisa Kudrow said Friends should be seen as a time capsule, not for what they did wrong

Lisa Kudrow said Friends should be seen as a time capsule, not for what they did wrong

With an all-white cast, critics have said the show was not representative of Manhattan from 1994 to 2004. Pictured: (clockwise) Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller

With an all-white cast, critics have said the show was not representative of Manhattan from 1994 to 2004. Pictured: (clockwise) Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller

With an all-white cast, critics have said the show was not representative of Manhattan from 1994 to 2004. Pictured: (clockwise) Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller

Kudrow's character Phoebe Buffay (right, with Jennifer Aniston's Rachel Green) was the surrogate mother for her brother's twins

Kudrow's character Phoebe Buffay (right, with Jennifer Aniston's Rachel Green) was the surrogate mother for her brother's twins

Kudrow’s character Phoebe Buffay (right, with Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel Green) was the surrogate mother for her brother’s twins

Early on in the series, David Schwimmer's character Ross Geller (center) must come to terms with the fact that his wife (left) - and mother of his child - has realized that she is a lesbian

Early on in the series, David Schwimmer's character Ross Geller (center) must come to terms with the fact that his wife (left) - and mother of his child - has realized that she is a lesbian

Early on in the series, David Schwimmer’s character Ross Geller (center) must come to terms with the fact that his wife (left) – and mother of his child – has realized that she is a lesbian

“I don’t know what else, but for me it should be considered a time capsule, not for what they did wrong,” she continued.

Early on in the series, Schwimmer’s character Ross Geller has to come to terms with the fact that his wife – and his child’s mother – has realized she’s a lesbian.

Kudrow’s character Phoebe was the surrogate mother to her brother’s twins.

“This show was very progressive,” said Kudrow. “There was a man whose wife discovered she was gay and pregnant, and they raised the child together? We also had surrogacy. It was progressive at the time. ‘

Friends have come back into the limelight as fans await the broadcast on HBO Max in November – pushed back after the coronavirus pandemic delayed filming with a live audience.

Her comments about the show from creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman reflected Schwimmer in January.

“I don’t care,” Schwimmer told the Guardian. “That show was groundbreaking in its time for the way he casually treated sex, protected sex, same-sex marriages and relationships … You have to look at what the show was trying to do back then.

“I’m the first to say there might be something inappropriate or insensitive, but I feel my barometer was pretty good at the time. I was already really attuned to social issues and equality issues. ‘

“Maybe there should be an all-black or all-Asian friend,” Schwimmer added to the Guardian. “But I was well aware of the lack of diversity, and I spent years campaigning to date Ross with colored women. One of the first friends 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. ‘

Last year, Aisha Tyler (right) - who played Ross Geller's girlfriend on the show - said 'people of color were always aware of it [the lack of diversity]'

Last year, Aisha Tyler (right) - who played Ross Geller's girlfriend on the show - said 'people of color were always aware of it [the lack of diversity]'

Last year, Aisha Tyler (right) – who played Ross Geller’s girlfriend on the show – said ‘people of color were always aware of it [the lack of diversity]’

But last year, Aisha Tyler – who played Ross Geller’s girlfriend on the show – shared a different take on Kudrow and Schwimmer. She said it was clear at the time that the sitcom was not representative of New York life.

Tyler also revealed that she no longer wanted to be representative in casting her character Charlie.

“People of color were always aware of it [the lack of diversity]Tyler told the British newspaper The Guardian. “Even back then, people were constantly pointing out that Friends wasn’t as diverse as real-world Manhattan.”

She added, “My character was not written on the page to be a woman of color, and I auditioned against many other women from different ethnic backgrounds, so I like to think they picked me because I have the right one person was for the role.

But I knew it was something new for the show, and it was really important because the fact that it was a Manhattan show that was almost entirely Caucasian.

“It was an unrealistic representation of what the real world looked like.”

Last year, Cosimo Fusco, who played the love interest of Aniston’s character Rachel Green last year, said of the cast, “Today one of six should be black, of course.”

He added that he disagreed with the rendering of his own character Paolo.

“There was a scene where I got a massage, and I had to be a fat guy who touched Phoebe’s ass. “I had a problem with how it portrayed me, like guys from Italy are like that. What they wanted me to do was kind of disrespectful. But I remember we could find a compromise, so I was comfortable. ‘

In March 2018, Oscar-winning comedy show producer Lena Waithe addressed Gabrielle Union as the only black character to friends.

Union was a love interest of both Ross Geller and LeBlanc’s character Joey.

“Being at that show was a big problem with my crib. I also remember that ACCESS HOLLYWOOD wrote about it, “Waithe tweeted Union.

But Union revealed, ‘I got in trouble saying I was the only black person on Friends … they made me turn it into’ 1st African American love interest ‘.

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