Jennifer Aniston Says a 'Whole Generation' of Kids Find 'Friends' Episodes Offensive
Jennifer Aniston is reflecting on how comedy has changed. In a new interview, the 54-year-old actress spoke about the "tricky" sensitivity of comedy in recent years, which wasn't as prevalent when she she starred on Friends from 1994 to 2004.
"Comedy has evolved, movies have evolved. 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," Aniston told AFP via Yahoo News. "[In the past] 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."
For Aniston, one example of the relatively newfound sensitivity is how particular episodes of Friends are viewed by Gen Z.
"There's a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of Friends and find them offensive," Aniston 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."
The change in comedy is something Aniston is not for, as she explained, "Everybody needs funny! The world needs humor! We can't take ourselves too seriously. Especially in the United States. Everyone is far too divided."
Friends has been criticized in recent years for its lack of diversity. Last year, Marta Kauffman, who co-created the sitcom, donated $4 million to Brandeis University to establish an endowed professorship in the school's African and African American Studies Department. She later told The Los Angeles Times how the lack of diversity on her show inspired the donation.
"I've learned a lot in the last 20 years. Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It's painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I'm embarrassed that I didn't know better 25 years ago," she said. "It was after what happened to George Floyd that I began to wrestle with my having bought into systemic racism in ways I was never aware of. That was really the moment that I began to examine the ways I had participated. I knew then I needed to course-correct."
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