“Friends” Star David Schwimmer Says He Campaigned For His Character To ‘Date Women Of Color’, Aisha Tyler Played His On-Screen Girlfriend
“Friends” is one of the many 90s classics that have made their way back into the culture thanks to streaming services like Netflix.
The entire series, which aired from 1994-2004, was available on Netflix until Jan. 1 of this year, giving Millennials and younger generations a chance to witness the show. Still, what many witnessed was the lack of diversity and alleged homophobic and body-shaming banter and jokes.
Star David Schwimmer, who played Ross Geller, spoke about the dynamics of the series and revealed he pushed show heads to cast a woman of color as his girlfriend, which seemed to work.
“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.”
The African American woman he dated was Charlie Wheeler, played by Aisha Tyler, and the Asian American woman he dated was Julie, played by Lauren Tom.
David Schwimmer added,
“It’s interesting also how the show handled the Judaism of the characters. I don’t think that was earth-shattering or groundbreaking at all, but I for one was glad that we had at least one episode where it wasn’t just about Christmas. It was also Hanukkah and, even though I played the Hanukkah armadillo” – Ross wore an armadillo costume – “I was glad that we at least acknowledged the differences in religious observation.”
Despite the side-eyes, David Schwimmer is adamant about honoring the series as a whole and said the current criticism can’t take away from the success of the show.
“I don’t care. 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. 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. 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.”
“Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends.”
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