Jennifer Aniston Says Classic Show Is Now Considered Offensive Because Modern Audiences Are Too Sensitive

Jennifer Aniston doesn't like how younger generations find Friends offensive.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

jennifer aniston

Jennifer Aniston’s career in comedy started with Friends, nearly 30 years ago, back in 1994, which in terms of how comedy has evolved, may as well be the Bronze Age. In a new report from Variety, Aniston agrees that what’s considered funny today is vastly different from the heyday of Friends. The Murder Mystery and We’re the Millers star is no stranger to low-brow humor, pointing out that the beauty of comedy is in making fun of ourselves.

There’s a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of ‘Friends’ and find them offensive, 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 on comedy today

Now, thanks to Friends living through streaming, new generations have discovered the show and are finding it appalling. The show has been called out for lack of diversity, with the main cast being white, and the most prominent non-white actor, Aisha Tyler, only featured in nine episodes. Out of 236 episodes, a disproportionate amount feature only white performers.

That’s not what Jennifer Aniston is contesting regarding the legacy of Friends; rather, she’s focused on the sensitivity she’s seeing in the younger generation. She insists that the country needs to laugh, insisting that we’re too divided and can’t take ourselves so seriously. According to the Horrible Bosses star, part of the difference is that back then, you educated people on bigotry by laughing at a bigoted character, and now, you can’t do that to her.

ross rachel friends

Jennifer Aniston isn’t the first Friends star to come to the sitcom’s defense. Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe and her twin sister Ursula on the long-running show, explained that it was the product of two writers from Brandeis University writing about their post-college life. That was used to defend the lack of diversity, as both creators, David Crane and Marta Kaufman, are white.

While that explains part of the criticism, the other part is exemplified using terms like “lesbian” as a punchline. That’s the joke; one of the main cast says the word, and the studio audience laughs. Even if some of the newest generations are offended, those that grew up with the series recognize that it was one of the first to feature LGBT characters, and as much as anyone received respect on the show, they were at least on-screen as fully fleshed-out characters.

The sad reality is that Friends is as far removed from today as Bewitched was from the sitcom’s debut in 1964. Think of society in 1964 and compare it to 1994; going by that metric, Jennifer Aniston’s comedy in Friends is progressive. Now compare 1994 to today, the same length of time and entertainment will reflect different societal norms.

Jennifer Aniston can be seen on Netflix alongside Adam Sandler in Murder Mystery 2, as a married couple that finds themselves caught up in another murder while vacationing aboard, and also on HBO Max, which streams every episode of Friends.