Jennifer Aniston recently opened up about how comedy has changed in the decades since Friends aired.
While promoting her upcoming film Murder Mystery 2, Aniston explained that comedy is more complicated today than it used to be.
“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,” she told AFP. In the past, she continued, “you could joke about a bigot and have a laugh — that was hysterical. And it was about educating people on how ridiculous people were. And now we’re not allowed to do that.”
The actress then switched her focus to Friends specifically, pointing out that when the show was airing in the 1990s, it was funny and people looked past some of the potentially more controversial takes the sitcom had.
“There’s a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of Friends and find them offensive,” she said. “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.”
Aniston also told the publication it was a tragedy that the sensitivity surrounding comedy may be why there are fewer comedies in recent years than there used to be.
“Everybody needs funny,” the Rachel Green actress said. “The world needs humor! We can’t take ourselves too seriously — especially in the United States. Everyone is far too divided.”
In recent years, Friends has received some pushback for starring six white actors and minimal actors of color, most of them only making guest appearances, like Gabrielle Union, Mark Consuelos, Craig Robinson and Lauren Tom, as well as Aisha Tyler, who had a recurring role in the late seasons.
In an interview tied to Friends The Reunion, creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, as well as exec producer/director Kevin Bright, spoke to about things they’d do differently if the show were made today.
“There are probably a hundred things I would have done differently,” Kauffman said. “I’ve talked about it in the past, and I do have very strong feelings about my participation in a system, but it comes down to I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”