Is ‘Friends’ Offensive? Jennifer Aniston Weighs In

FRIENDS, cast photo, from left: Lisa Kudrow, Matt Leblanc, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry
Andrew Eccles/TV Guide/NBC/Everett Collection

Newer generations are finding issues with old shows and many are not as old as you might think. Shows such as Friends and The Office were insanely popular in the ’90s and ’00s. Millions of people re-watch the series for laughs but some new viewers are finding issues with a lot of the jokes and calling the shows offensive. Jennifer Aniston, who starred as Rachel Green in Friends, realizes why certain storylines are problematic but says it was not intentional.

Jennifer shared, “There’s a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of Friends and find them offensive.” She added, “There were things that were never intentional and others … well, we should have thought it through, but I don’t think there was a sensitivity like there is now. Comedy has evolved, movies have evolved. Now it’s a little tricky because you have to be very careful, which makes it really hard for comedians. Because the beauty of comedy is that we make fun of ourselves, make fun of life.”

Jennifer Aniston shares her thoughts on ‘Friends’ being called offensive

FRIENDS, Jennifer Aniston (one of six alternate covers). TV Guide cover, 6/8-14/2002

TV Guide/Everett Collection

Jennifer explained that many shows would “joke about a bigot” and it was not meant to be offensive but to show how ridiculous some people could be. Characters like Michael Scott on The Office were making fun of terrible bosses and showing you how not to act.

Jennifer added that she is disappointed that there aren’t as many comedies being made for fear of “being canceled.” She said, “Everybody needs funny! The world needs humor! We can’t take ourselves too seriously. Especially in the United States. Everyone is far too divided.”

FRIENDS, (clockwise from top): David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox Arquette, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, (Season 1), 1994-2004

Warner Bros./Everett Collection

Friends has also been criticized for its lack of diversity, something that co-creator Marta Kauffman apologized for. During a virtual appearance at the 2020 ATX Festival, she said, “I mean, we’ve always encouraged people of diversity in our company, but I didn’t do enough and now all I can think about is what can I do? What can I do differently? How can I run my show in a new way? And that’s something I not only wish I knew when I started showrunning, but I wish I knew all the way up through last year.”