David Schwimmer Suggests an All-Black or All-Asian 'Friends' Reboot
By Antoinette Bueno
David Schwimmer has an idea for how to revive the still super-popular Friends.
The 53-year-old actor talks about the iconic sitcom starring him, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc in a new interview with The Guardian, and proposes a more diverse cast. Schwimmer also says he actively pushed for his character, Ross, to date women of color during the show. Ross' girlfriends on the show included Julie, played by Lauren Tom, as well as Charlie Wheeler, played by Aisha Tyler.
"Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends," Schwimmer proposes. "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."
"I'm very aware of my own privilege as a heterosexual white male whose parents were able to pay for a private education for me," he continues, noting that his mother was a prominent feminist activist lawyer. "I've always felt a sense of responsibility to give back and to call things out if I see an abuse of power."
Interestingly enough, when Queen Latifah appeared on The Late Late Show in June 2016, she told host James Corden that her '90s Fox sitcom, Living Single -- which had an all-black cast -- influenced Friends.
"It was interesting because when Living Single came out, shortly thereafter, Warren Littlefield, who's president of NBC, they asked him if he could have any show on television -- any of the new shows -- which one would it be, and he said Living Single," she shared. "It was in the newspaper. And the next thing you know, here comes Friends."
Meanwhile, when it comes to reviving Friends with the original cast, Schwimmer doesn't see that happening.
"I just don't think it's possible, given everyone's different career trajectories," he says of the cast ever returning to play their beloved characters. "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."
Schwimmer does have a theory on why Friends is still so popular today, even if the show went off the air in 2004. The actor says it's because the show was set before the era of smartphones and social media, which decreased human interaction.
"That's why Friends is nostalgic, because it was a time right before the world profoundly changed in terms of social media and where our focus was," he muses. "It was six people who actually sat and talked to each other."
As for criticism that the show doesn't hold up well in this day and age when it comes to a few controversial topics -- for example, the running jokes on Monica's weight -- Schwimmer is unbothered.
"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," he says. "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."
"I feel that a lot of the problem today in so many areas is that so little is taken in context," he continues. "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."
Friends fans got excited in November when news broke that the cast as well as the sitcom's creators, David Crane and Marta Kauffman, were discussing a possible reunion project for HBO Max. However, the Chief Content Officer of HBO Max, Kevin Reilly, said that the project is still very much up in the air at the Television Critics Association winter press tour earlier this month.
"There's interest all the way around, and yet we can't seem to quite get that interest aligned to push the button on it," he said. "Today, unfortunately, it's still a maybe."