David Schwimmer is defending Friends against criticism, despite acknowledging the show's "lack of diversity."
In an interview for The Guardian, interviewer David Smith asked Schwimmer about the suggestions that the show has not aged well, as people discovering the show on Netflix in recent years have criticized its handling of race, gender, and sexuality.
"I don’t care," Schwimmer responded. "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."
Smith noted that this was the only time the actor appeared defensive during the interview, and that he had said "I don't care" dismissively.
"I feel that a lot of the problem today in so many areas is that so little is taken in context," Schwimmer added. "You have to look at it from the point of view of what the show was trying to do at the time. 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."
While there's plenty of Friends nostalgia, some have argued that it contains outdated ideas — such as the entire plotline around "fat Monica" and how it treated Ross's lesbian ex-wife as a punchline.
Schwimmer, however, did say that "maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends," telling The Guardian, "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."
While he's apparently all for a more diverse take on Friends, Schwimmer was more hesitant about reviving Ross for a bigger reunion (the Friends unscripted special was recently put on hold at HBO Max).
"I just don’t think it’s possible, given everyone’s different career trajectories," he said. "I think everyone feels the same: why mess with what felt like the right way to end the series? I don’t want to do anything for the money. It would have to make sense creatively and nothing I’ve heard so far presented to us makes sense."