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Jennifer Aniston: A ‘Whole Generation’ Finds ‘Friends’ Offensive

Photo Credit: justmeredith / The WB Television Network / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: justmeredith / The WB Television Network / MovieStillsDB

Friends first aired in 1994 and ran for 10 seasons, wrapping in 2004. Comedy was a lot different back then, and the sitcom made a lot of jokes that younger generations may find offensive today. Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel Greene, thinks this shift in comedy isn’t necessarily a good thing.

A ‘whole generation’ finds Friends offensive

Still from 'Friends'
Friends, 1994-2004. (Photo Credit: Handout / Getty Images)

In a recent interview, Jennifer Aniston said comedy these days is a “tricky” area to navigate and that Friends doesn’t necessarily have a place in the modern day. The sitcom could get away with certain jokes when it was originally recorded and aired because there weren’t the same sensitivities within audiences as there are today.

“There’s a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of Friends and find them offensive,” she shared. “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.”

Jennifer Aniston isn’t a fan of this new sensitivity

Jennifer Aniston posing on a red carpet
Jennifer Aniston at the Los Angeles premiere of Netflix’s Murder Mystery 2 at the Regency Village Theatre, March 2023. (Photo Credit: Steve Granitz / FilmMagic / Getty Images)

While discussing the new sensitivities of modern audiences, Jennifer Aniston said she isn’t a fan of the way things are going in the comedy world. “Comedy has evolved, movies have evolved,” she said. “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 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.”

Aniston believes this is a negative shift, saying, “Everybody needs funny! The world needs humor! We can’t take ourselves too seriously. Especially in the United States. Everyone is far too divided.”

Sitcom stars know certain episodes are problematic

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jerry Seinfeld as Elaine Benes and Jerry Seinfeld in 'Seinfeld'
Seinfeld, 1989-98. (Photo Credit: Carlito / MovieStillsDB)

Jennifer Aniston isn’t the only sitcom star to share their opinion on changing public views and how their shows are failing to fit into modern times. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has fully recognized that “The Cigar Store Indian” episode of his titular sitcom, Seinfeld (1989-98), would never have been written – let alone air – these days.

In the 1993 episode, Seinfeld continuously offends a Native American woman he is trying to date. It plays on several stereotypes, with Seinfeld giving Elaine a wooden carving of a stereotypical Native person to “bury the hatchet” after they have a fight.

“You could never do that today,” Seinfeld explained in 2017. However, he also said comedians can still be funny, they just have to do it in modern contexts. “One door closes, another opens. […] There’s always a joke; you’ve just got to find it,” he said.

Some sitcoms are entirely problematic

Cast of 'Married... with Children' sitting on a couch
Married… with Children, 1987-97. (Photo Credit: Aaron Rapoport / CORBIS / Getty Images)

Additionally, Katey Sagal, who starred as Margaret “Peggy” Bundy on Married… with Children (1987-97), has admitted the show was “very misogynistic” and shouldn’t be taken as her belief system. “You know, I was hired to play a part … The women were portrayed completely exploited on that show,” she told Us Magazine. “That was part of Al Bundy’s thing – he liked hot women, and they showed them all the time.”

She went on to explain, “I was really clear that I don’t believe in censorship, and I also believe that it’s my job as an actor to interpret the material – it’s not my belief. If you’re asking me, do I think women should be portrayed in a misogynistic way, in an exploited way, of course I don’t think that. But playing Peg Bundy had nothing to do with what I thought. That was my job.”

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“It was meant to be funny and to entertain and to laugh at ourselves. And I always got it as that, but some people took it really seriously,” she concluded.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!