Lisa Kudrow says 'Friends' would be 'completely different' now: 'It would not be an all-white cast'

Lisa Kudrow (center) says Friends would have a more diverse cast if it aired today. (Photo: NBCU Photo Bank)

While the coronavirus pandemic has indefinitely delayed the highly anticipated Friends reunion special, Lisa Kudrow’s new interview in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper might be the next best thing.

In it, the actress speculates on what her alter ego, kooky Phoebe Buffay, might be up to under lockdown. The masseuse and songstress was last seen marrying Paul Rudd’s Mike.

“I feel like if they’d had kids, she would be militaristic about creating art,” Kudrow says. “So their place would be overrun with huge, outlandish projects.”

Though the Space Force star calls her experience with Friends “nothing but good,” she admits that the NBC sitcom would be “completely different” were it to air today. The show, which ran from 1994 to 2004, has faced critiques that certain jokes were fat-shaming and transphobic as well as complaints that it seldom cast actors of color.

Kudrow also speculated on how Phoebe might be surviving self-isolation. (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Kudrow acknowledges that a modern-day show would need to be more diverse, but defends the show for being “very progressive” at the time.

“Well, it would not be an all-white cast, for sure,” she tells the newspaper. “I’m not sure what else, but, to me, it should be looked at as a time capsule, not for what they did wrong. Also, this show thought it was very progressive. 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.”

In January, Kudrow’s co-star David Schwimmer shared similar sentiments, acknowledging a “lack of diversity” but insisting that Friends was still “groundbreaking in its time.”

“I don’t care,” Schwimmer said of criticism. “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. 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.”

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