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6 White Complainers in NYC: Contemporary Diversity and the Lasting Appeal of Friends

Humorous jab aside, I recently read an article here about the appeal of Friends to a younger generation of Netflix users. While the platform itself eases the process of binge-watching, what do we think about the notion of diversity which is presented here? This isn’t a desire to recast Friends using actresses and actors of colour. Rather, it’s a meditation on what exactly these six white characters offer that elicits such interest and intimate connection. Is it because they’re the same on the outside but diverse on the inside? Is there a philosophy of entertainment which trumps race to viewers of Friends, or do are the characters themselves constituent to a desire for "emotions" transcending narratives of culture, ethnicity, and race (each of these ideally intersecting, rather than divorced from, class)?

Edit: Munjeera brought up a good point about the diversity of the cast members themselves, and the ways in which some character in the show attempted to maintain an authenticity to themselves (specifically the "Holiday Armadillo" episode). The point about love is something really important to consider too: love of others, love of self, love of life as is, and as it could be.

Musing aside, I what I was hoping to convey is why these individuals in particular seem to transcend Netflix user social borders marked by culture, ethnicity, and race. And, perhaps more importantly, is this the standard which must be met when creating a narrative of love and friendship? What does Friends make self-evident and what does it silence?

  • Agreed. Why has Friends maintained its popularity transcending generations and race? I think the actors are genuinely nice and humble people. Whenever I have seen them in interviews they have never ever come across as arrogant and always thank the fans for embracing them. They also seem to really like each other. It is TV magic, sometimes called lightning in a bottle. Maybe whoever writes this article can shed some light on this mystery. – Munjeera 4 years ago
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  • This is a good topic and definitely has a lot of room to talk about. How would Friends have looked if Chandler was gay? or if Ross and Monica were POC? Would it still have worked as well as it seems to universally? I've never encountered a person in my own life who has watched Friends and didn't like it. The author of this article could also speculate on what makes the character's feel so real. Is it the actor's natural chemistry off-screen? Is it the fact that the actors were all paid the same and negotiated as a group for their contracts to make sure they were all treated as equals? And why do the many copycat shows (How I Met Your Mother, Baby Daddy, Happy Endings, The Big Bang Theory, etc.) that try to capitalize on the construction of the narrative, try and fail to achieve that same level of comedy and emotional connectivity? Of all the shows listed, I think How I Met Your Mother comes the closest, but there are points in the narrative and it's execution that I feel are lacking and disappoint viewers. – Nayr1230 4 years ago
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  • I agree with these comments and your article idea. I've noticed too with Friends that the writing perpetuates gender stereotypes in ways that may not transcend race. Perhaps their problems are contained within their "whiteness," so to speak? – daniellegreen624 3 years ago
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