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Friends would not feature all-white cast if it was made today, says director

The Friends reunion special (Terence Patrick/HBO Max/PA)
The Friends reunion special (Terence Patrick/HBO Max/PA)

The executive producer and director of Friends has said the show would not feature an all-white main cast if it was made today.

The beloved sitcom, which has returned with a long-awaited reunion special, remains widely popular but has been criticised for not featuring more non-white actors.

Kevin Bright said the “racial makeup” of the main cast would be different if the show was created now.

He told The Hollywood Reporter: “We would be so aware. It would be integral to the chemistry and the conversation that these guys would be having. Do they get together as much as they do on the show, or is this more of a social media back and forth?

“So much would change, but to get them to behave realistically within this time, there would be a lot that would change about them.

“And the racial makeup of them would change because of that. If we did Friends today, no, I don’t imagine they would probably end up being an all-white cast.”

Bright suggested the show, which aired over 10 seasons between 1994 and 2004, may have ended early if it had faced scrutiny on social media.

Asked if the all-white casting was a conscious choice, he said: “For the parts of Chandler and Phoebe, we saw everybody and we picked what we thought with the two best actors. There are different priorities today and so much has changed.

“There was no social media when Friends was on the air. Can you imagine what every episode might have been like if it had to go under that scrutiny every week? You might not have gotten the whole series.

“It’s important for today’s shows to be reflective of the ways society truly is. But for our experience, the three of us, that may have been our experience when we were young and in New York.

“But we didn’t intend to have an all-white cast. That was not the goal, either. Obviously, the chemistry between these six actors speaks for itself.”

Co-creator Marta Kauffman similarly denied it was a conscious decision.

She told the publication: “No. There are many things that I could say if I only knew then what I know now. Back then, there was no conscious decision.

“We saw people of every race, religion, colour. These were the six people we cast. So, it was certainly not conscious.

“And it wasn’t because it was literally based on people, because it wasn’t literal. You get an inspiration for someone, you write what you think their voice is going to be, but it wasn’t literal.”

– Watch Friends: The Reunion on Sky One and streaming service NOW.

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