Friends, the show that ended 15 years ago but still continues to make headlines, is doing just that. The fan-favorite NBC comedy that aired from 1994-2004 came to Netflix in 2015 for a hefty price, and then the show became multi-generational with younger viewers diving deep into the lives of Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe and Joey. But with the 10 seasons and 236 episodes available came new scrutiny.
Viewers, both new and old, came to see the show in different light. From how it handled diversity and homophobia to some of the, uh, not-so-great behavior on Ross’ (David Schwimmer) part involving Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). In an interview with The Guardian, Schwimmer, who was promoting his new series Intelligence, Schwimmer dismissed the criticism that’s been directed at the show all these years later.
“I don’t care. 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,” he said.
“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,” he continued. “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.”
Schwimmer’s Ross character dated both an Asian woman and a black woman, but the diversity on the show was still limited.
“Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends,” Schwimmer said. “But I was well aware of the lack of diversity and 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.”
The actor pointed at how the show handled the Judaism of the characters, noting while not groundbreaking, it did make him happy that the show “acknowledged the differences in religious observation.”
Friends made headlines once again when the show’s producer, Warner Bros. TV, pulled out all the stops celebrating the 25th anniversary of the premiere. There was a LEGO set, movie theater screenings, a traveling Central Perk pop-up and so much more. And the celebrations might not be over. After it was announced Friends would jump streaming homes in the United States from Netflix to HBO Max (again for a hefty price), news broke that a reunion may be in the works featuring Schwimmer, Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and the show’s creators.
While nothing is official, those involved have confirmed there is some sort of reunion in the works. “I honestly don’t know,” Kauffman told E! News when asked if the special was still happening. “I know it is something that people are interested in, whether it happens or not, it still remains to be seen.”
It’d be some sort of taped reunion special, not a revival or reunion movie. That ship has sailed.