The “Friends” reunion last month had fans of the classic sitcom reminiscing about the cast and how things may have been done differently with current climate of social equality in 2021.
The show’s co-creator Marta Kauffman discussed the show’s positives and negatives that included the lack of diversity on the cast with different races.
Actress, comedian and former The Talk host Aisha Tyler was the first Black woman to have a significant role in the show in Seasons 9 and 10 as Joey’s and then Ross’ girlfriend Dr. Charlie Wheeler.
An old clip resurfaced online with Gabrielle Union which the actress described her not so pleasant time with the team over at “Friends” as a guest star during season 7.
The clip is from an interview with Free Library of Philadelphia. She explained her disgust at the lack of respect she was given by the executives of the sitcom.
“That dual consciousness though is what prepares me to then do an episode of ‘Friends’ after being on ‘City of Angels.’ When they’re like, ‘Nikki or Gabby, do you know what a mark is?’ Yeah, I’m an actor. Didn’t have to audition for this job, because I was just on a hit show on CBS,” stated Union.
She continued, “But the man talked to me in sing-song voice the whole week. But, I’ve been there. … ‘Do Buckwheat. We love it when you entertain us. That’s where we’re most comfortable. Assimilate, disappear, be complacent. Where you’re nice and safe.’”
Check out the clip below.
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The clip above went viral and social media reacted to her comments with their own observation of the show. A Twitter user commented, “I liked Friends, but I did notice subliminal messages, that seemed racist.” They added, “Gabrielle Union was on one episode of Friends. Her character was pursued by Ross and Joey. At one point, all three were at a restaurant. The guys were arguing over her. Then the men argued about a monkey.”
I liked Friends, but I did notice subliminal messages, that seemed racist. Gabrielle Union was on one episode of Friends. Her character was pursued by Ross and Joey. At one point, all three were at a restaurant. The guys were arguing over her. Then the men argued about a monkey.
— Monique11 (@adoringtay) June 1, 2021
You can check out the full interview with Gabrielle Union below.
Ironically in 2017, rapper Jay-Z staged a reading of the same episode for his “Moonlight” music video starring Jerrod Carmichael, Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Issa Rae, Lil Rel Howery and Tiffany Haddish.
In 2020, a Season 3 episode of Friends was re-imagined with “The One with the Diverse Cast.” Sterling K. Brown, Uzo Aduba, Ryan Bathe, Aisha Hinds, Kendrick Sampson and Jeremy Pope did an online Friends table read hosted by Gabrielle Union.
It took place soon after a similar concept was used for another show that was criticized for its lack of diversity in the classic “Golden Girls” sitcom. Zoom Where It Happens table included an all-Black cast of Regina King, Tracee Ellis Ross, Alfre Woodard and Sanaa Lathan.