Jennifer Aniston: ‘There’s a whole generation of kids who find Friends offensive’

Actor says ‘you have to be very careful’ with comedy now

Jennifer Aniston. Photograph: Sandy Kim/New York Times

“A whole generation of kids” now finds Friends offensive, said Jennifer Aniston, the actor who made her name in the smash-hit 1990s sitcom.

Speaking to Variety, Aniston said working in comedy had grown increasingly difficult, as comedians were now “not allowed” to “make fun of life”.

“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 said.

“[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.”


A comedy about the lives of six young New Yorkers, three men and three women, Friends ran between 1994 and 2004. It made stars out of its cast and remains hugely popular but Aniston said newfound sensitivities were in play.

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

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Aniston is not alone among comedians or comic actors in suggesting progressivism and sensitivity have become deterrents to creativity. Comedians including Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle have recently called out “woke culture” for, they say, limiting what jokes are tolerable. In turn, both have been called out for offensive jokes and for sets challenging “wokeness”.

Some viewers have criticised Friends for a lack of diversity. All the main characters are white and the show rarely featured people of colour. Others have noted jokes now seen to be homophobic or transphobic.

A co-creator of the show has expressed guilt about its lack of diversity.

“Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy,” Marta Kauffman told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago.”

Kauffman said she had donated $4m to create a professorship program at Brandeis University, to “support a distinguished scholar with a concentration in the study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora”. – Guardian