Days after news of the highly-awaited “Friends: The Reunion" special episode airing on May 27 broke on social media, all does not seem to be going well for the producers of the hit 90s sitcom. The special episode, which has become the talk of town since last week, boasts of an impressive line-up of 30 guests including Justin Beiber, Malala Yousafzai and K-pop band BTS. Fans, however, were disappointed to find that not one of the stars was Black.
The special episode is set to be aired on streaming service HB0 Max. While featuring the original star cast of the show as well as several actors who have featured on the show over the years such as Tom Selleck (Richard), and Maggie Wheeler (Janice), the lineup of guests include Lady Gaga, footballer David Beckham, actors like Kit Harrington and Mindy Kaling.
“Friends," which ended its 10-year-long run on NBC television in 2004, was one of the most popular TV shows of the 1990s and found a new life on streaming platforms where it is one of the most-watched shows worldwide. News of the broadcast date for the reunion quickly became the top trending item worldwide on Twitter. But, not unlike the original show, the reunion failed to include any Black celebrity. Not even Aisha Tyler, who appeared as Charlie in a smattering of episodes in Seasons 9 and 10 and is the only Black artist to have appeared for a significant role in the highly successful show.
“Friends: The Reunion," featuring all six of the original cast, was originally supposed to have been filmed more than a year ago but was repeatedly delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The unscripted, one-off special was filmed earlier this year on the same sound stage in Los Angeles as the original comedy about six young 20-somethings, played by Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry, living in New York.
While many on social media lamented the lack of Black actors on the special episode, others were not surprised. “I see that Friends reunion has the same number of Black folks as the original show. Consistency I guess??," Twitter user Leslie Myer wrote.
Ah yes. FRIENDS.After convincing us that NYC has no Black or Brown people in it for 9 seasons, they issue a reunion with 25 celebs and somehow evade finding a single Black person. https://t.co/kSYyN3MtQ3— Del ¦ Rocksteady Dev 🎮 (@TheCartelDel) May 14, 2021
the premise of the Friends reunion episode will be: the Friends still don't know any Black people.— Scott Weinberg (@scottEmovienerd) May 13, 2021
I thought the friends reunion would be a special episode where we get a look at the character’s lives now but idk what this is anymore and I’m not curious to know. Also no black person involved so that’s on brand for them— Will (@critiquehf) May 14, 2021
Damn even the Friends reunion decided to stay extremely white. They didn’t even bring their only black cast member back— Desiree Middlebrook (@desiwiththewine) May 14, 2021
Friends has faced decades of criticism for being unrealistically white in the middle of New York. Then they plan a reunion with 0 Black guest stars.
— blackness everdeen 🐺 (@traceyecorder) May 13, 2021
Here’s what I commented on Facebook: “Oh, no black people again? My, times haven’t changed. How does my favorite show still get it so wrong?” #FriendsReunion @hbomax— Chimére L. Smith (@chiluvs1) May 13, 2021
— Prophets Of Rock (@prophetsofr0ck) May 14, 2021
Friends and several other popular shows of the time such as Will and Grace, Alley McBeal, Sex and the City and others failed to represent people of colour and ethnicities as part of the culture of New York. Fans, therefore, were left disappointed after the makers of Friends failed to grasp the opportunity to reverse a historic wrong by including Black people in the show’s reuinin episode to celebrate the show’s legacy.