Do we need another member of the Friends cast talking about a POC version of the series? It would seem Lisa Kudrow thinks so, since she spoke to British newspaper Sunday Times about how the series would have changed if it were airing now.
She told the outlet that Friends would be “completely different” if it were airing today, despite praising the show for its level of progression in the 1990s.
“Well, it would not be an all-white cast, for sure,” she said, as reported by Yahoo! Entertainment. “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.”
David Schwimmer famously spoke about Friends being updated for the 21st century, telling The Guardian in January, “Maybe there should be an all-Black Friends or an all-Asian Friends.” Erika Alexander, who played Maxine Shaw on Living Single, tweeted Schwimmer her 2019 Shadow And Act interview in which she revealed how Living Single wasn’t marketed as much as Friends was, despite it airing before Friends.
“The difference between Friends and Living Single is one of marketing and skin color,” she said. “What does Paul Mooney say? ‘They have the complexion for the protection'”
“If you were on a show with a Black cast you weren’t seen as a show with a Black cast, which is how I like to see it. They saw you as a Black show,” she continued. “So they would often put you in a cultural ghetto. That would undermine any sort of ambitions that you might have to grow beyond its locked-in demographic.”
Alexander also wrote about the Friends/Living Single issue in an essay for Zora, detailing how “David didn’t realize that the so-called, all Black Friends had already happened.”
“…Our digital encounter exposed two realities; one rooted in perceived stature, and the other in implicit value,” she wrote. “Living Single had a Black cast of six, young New Yorkers living in the same complex facing life and love together. But we were on a so-called ‘Black show,’ and that designation is the beginning of marginalization. So David didn’t have to pay attention to our show, and frankly, why would he? If you’re the king of the hill why pay attention to, well, us. But believe me, you couldn’t miss Friends. It was everywhere.”
Photo: Warner Bros TV