David Schwimmer Responds To ‘Friends’ Diversity Criticism

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Despite Friends ending 15 years ago, the show became a multi-generational hit when it arrived on Netflix in November 2015. However, recently the hit NBC comedy series has encountered some more scrutiny.

Many viewers, both new and old, have come to see the show in a different light. Mainly, from how it handled diversity and homophobia, and Ross’ (David Schwimmer) awful behavior and treatment of Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). In a recent interview with The Guardian, Schwimmer, who was promoting his new series Intelligence, dismissed the criticism that’s been directed at the show for many years now.

“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,” Schwimmer 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 character dated both an Asian woman and a black woman, but diversity on the show during it’s original run 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 Intelligence actor highlighted how Friends handled Judaism of the characters, pointing out even though it wasn’t groundbreaking, it did make him happy that the sitcom “acknowledged the differences in religious observation.”

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