Lisa Kudrow on a potential Friends movie: ‘it would have to be a different cast’

Lisa Kudrow’s genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are is out now. It follows six celebrities as they find out about who their ancestors were. Lisa did the first episode, but her involvement is as the executive producer, that’s why she’s handing the bulk of the press on it. She gave a long interview to The Daily Beast that runs the gamut as far as topics. It discussed her relationship with being Jewish because her father was not religious, but Lisa wanted to connect with that part of her and had to kind of seek it out on her own. Then Who Do You Think You Are found out members of her family were killed during the holocaust, so they discussed intergenerational trauma. From there they jump to Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and Alan Cummings nightclub in the East Village. Lisa also said that Justin Theroux had to remind her they’d met while making Romy and Michele when Jennifer Aniston introduced him to Lisa.

Lisa was asked about her two (arguably) most successful TV endeavors: Friends and The Comeback. The Comeback’s second season happened nine years after its first so the interviewer wanted to know if there would be a third. Lisa said maybe a third season, but not nine years later. They also asked if there would ever be a Friends movie. Lisa said she didn’t think the show would work as a movie. And if it was, they’d need a younger, more diverse cast to make it relevant.

If the made a Sex in The City movie, why not a Friends movie?: Yeah, but that’s different. That was single-camera, so it was already filmic. This was a multi-camera sitcom, and it had a different energy to it. I think if there would ever be anything like that, if Marta and David ever signed off on anything like that, it would have to be a different cast at that age. I think it would need to be more current—and more diverse representation is not a bad idea, you know?

On the lack of diversity of Friends: Well, I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college. And for shows especially, when it’s going to be a comedy that’s character-driven, you write what you know. They have no business writing stories about the experiences of being a person of color. I think at that time, the big problem that I was seeing was, “Where’s the apprenticeship?”

On a third season of The Comeback: I don’t think we’re gonna make it! Not make it ever, but I don’t think we’re gonna make it in nine years. We also don’t know if HBO wants it, by the way. But we haven’t asked. We’re both sort of like, “I’m not gonna ask, are you?” “No, I don’t want to hear ‘no.’” It’s something we love so much. That’s why it took nine years the first time!

We always talk about what it would be. Always. Younger and younger people come up to me and go “The Comeback!” Because they weren’t around when it was on TV and didn’t know what it was like in 2005 when it came out. And I love being her. My God, that’s one of the easiest things to do.

[From The Daily Beast]

I included the discussion involving The Comeback because I watched the series after my last Lisa post and I wanted to discuss it. I don’t love dramedy but it is a well done series. And the fact that they could make the second season relevant after nine years was quite impressive. However, I thought the end of the second season was so good, I would almost hate for anything to sully it. I’d almost prefer they do a spin off with another character and have Valerie Cherish make an appearance rather than another season focused on her. Not to take anything from Lisa, who was great, but again, I just love what happened to her character.

As for the Friends stuff, I’m a big Friends fan as you all know but I don’t want anything more. No movie, no more reunions, no remakes – nothing. I can see the problems with the show now and agree with the criticisms, but it held a place for me when I watched it and I still have fond memories of what it meant to me. I still find it funny, too. But I don’t need to go back. It was what it was and I wish they’d leave the idea alone. I feel like the cast does too. They all give a version of the same answer, which is they loved the show but how would it even work now? However, if they ever do a movie, Lisa’s right. The entire show would need a complete overhaul to make it at all relevant today. Lisa was asked specifically about Marta Kauffman’s apology for not dealing with diversity on Friends in her second response above. She has a point but yeah, where were the writers that could have written those storylines, then? Unfortunately, that’s a question that could still be asked in a lot of writers’ rooms today.

Photo credit: Avalon Red, Cover Images and WENN

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20 Responses to “Lisa Kudrow on a potential Friends movie: ‘it would have to be a different cast’”

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  1. Snuffles says:

    I always thought of they did a revival they could feature the children of the characters. Ross’s kids Ben (played by Cole Sprouse) and Emma. Monica and Chandler’s twins. Phoebe’s nieces and nephew she gave birth to. And to spice it up, one of Joey’s inevitable illegitimate kids.

    Have Rachel’s daughter Emma and Monica’s daughter Erica inheritance their apartment and move in. Then Monica’s son Jack and Joey’s bastard kid live across the hall. Ben can live in Ross’s old apartment. The triplets can live with Aunt Phoebe.

    Then just have the original cast pop in once in a while.

    • Steph says:

      That seems like a good plot but it wouldn’t work today. The only way that wouldn’t be an all white main cast was if they made Joey’s child a person of color. It would be called out for the same issues as the original.

      • Snuffles says:

        Joey could have a secret kid with one of the 2 black women he dated during the run of the show.

        Ben could have a POC girlfriend/boyfriend. The other kids could have POC love interests, friends and work colleagues.

      • CourtneyB says:

        Theoretically chandler and Monica’s twins could be biracial. We never saw the dad and the twins were born on the finale so we didn’t really see or hear about them.

        Joey could have a whole rainbow coalition of secret kids considering he slept around the entire time. We only saw him with 2 WOC but most women he slept with were just referenced.

    • FHMom says:

      I would watch that! It should be set in Hoboken or some place cheaper than Manhattan, though. I know the apartment is iconic, but rents are beyond ridiculous in NY.

  2. Steph says:

    What about the show attracted you to it? I just never related to it. It didn’t reflect any of the NYC I was growing up in. I think I may have been a little too young to care about the dialogue. The only part of the show that said NY to me was how white it was. Everyone thinks it’s such a melting pot here, but that’s only in Queens. Everywhere else is more like those disposable dinner plates that come with the separated wells. Everything on the same plate yet still apart.

    • AmB says:

      I think Kudrow’s comment is apt here:
      “it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college”.
      It started out as just the writers’ little slice of experience, and when it hit, there was never any reason to expand that formula.
      It never resonated with me, either.

    • SpankyB says:

      I had never been to NY when the show was on so I had no idea how different it was from reality. And I’m assuming that’s how it was with a lot of fans. It was a silly show, it made me laugh. The plot lines were ridiculous which also made me laugh.

      Having said all that, I cannot watch it now. I don’t have the patience. I’ll scroll through an episode thinking maybe it’s just that episode I don’t like, but when I find myself scrolling through 4 or 5 episodes in a row I figure it’s time to stop trying to watch it altogether.

    • Sunnee says:

      Hmmm. I grew up in the Bronx- near Fordham. Lots of diversity- most neighbors were from Caribbean basin-DR, PR Jamaica, Trinidad, Aruba etc., My High School was up white plains Rd. – all very diverse. When my parents divorced I went to Brooklyn to live. Near Ocean Ave-diverse. I had friends from in East NY from India -and the Middle East.. I then went to college at NYU and lived and worked in the East Village near St Marks and Tompkins. All of those places were pretty diverse. Alphabet city has a huge Latino population. Growing up I had friends in Flushing, not that diverse. But I also knew people in Hollis and Jamaica-diverse. My SIL’s family lived in Staten Island- mostly white, Italian- but lots of PR too. NY is diverse, except most incoming post college people from the rest of the US and upstate NY tended to move to the UES and UWS- so those places are mostly white ex suburban American-mixed with older generation Jewish New Yorkers.
      I then worked I Advertising on Madison Ave. our office was a melting pot copywriters were mostly New Yorkers, , art dept were newly graduated young WP from elsewhere. Traffic Dept and accounting were died in the wool New Yorkers.
      So Friends did not seem representative of the NYC I knew.

      • AC says:

        @sunnee is so right. I am glad I was never a fan because the diversity was absent. No wonder one of them wished it were the 1990s again. Everything was white washed then.

  3. Lisa says:

    friends was so white in the extra casting too though, like when they left their apartments, where were the people on the street and in the workplace that didnt look like them?

    • phaedra7 says:

      Perhaps they can have a DIVERSE cast [various racial backgrounds, sexual orientation, people with disabilities, i.e.], to also show that NYC is not on-sidedly demographic. This was talked about after the original “Beverly Hills 90210” (broadcasted on FOX in the 1990s) was on the air. The actual high school had a diverse student population, though the series showcased mainly Caucasian characters. Always: Just. My. Observation!

  4. E.A says:

    As a black non American I can honestly say I didn’t care about the diversity of the show, I mean it aired before my time (i’m 28) and I only watched it early 2000s and recap now and then. But I thought there was random poc at the background e.t.c or extras from Monica work colleague, ross girlfriend and so on. I watched other American shows such as my wife and kids, fresh prince, everybody hates Chris that were black so never really cared.

    • Barbiem says:

      I never cared either. Im black and a decade older. I predominantly watched black t.v shows. I thought the cast was funny. It reflected their reality.

  5. FilmTurtle says:

    A revival would totally work. Reconnecting again after two decades and the kids are grown, empty nest, midlife crisis, etc. Joey probably gets a job one of those procedurals that run forever, so he’s back in NY, maybe buys his old building. It could work if it just moved the characters up to where they are now. But it would definitely have to be more diverse, particularly behind the camera.

    • FHMom says:

      But people hated AJLT, the Sex and the City reboot. I don’t think we need another nostalgia show about how those of us in our 50’s can’t navigate the modern world. Because that is what it would be

      • FilmTurtle says:

        You’re probably right! Another example: the Neil Patrick Harris show “Uncoupled” was entertaining enough, but it does feel like it was written by people who think being unable to program a VCR is still funny.

  6. Bettyrose says:

    What was that great movie she did with Christina Ricci? I still think of some of the scenes with both of them. They were so great together.

  7. AnneL says:

    I think a reboot could possibly work with a more diverse cast and possibly a different setting. They would probably do Brooklyn, where all the young hipsters and the Upscale Boho types live now. Brooklyn is just as expensive as Manhattan now and sometimes more so, but they would do it anyway.

    That said, I don’t think it’s needed or even a good idea. Gen Z has gotten into Friends, but they just enjoy the original show. They probably wouldn’t even want something that reflects their own time. To them “Friends” 90s NYC is nostalgic, innocent, simple. No crushing student debt, free time to hang around the coffee shop, young people with career paths and passions, sometimes in realistic combination. People dating around during their 20s and early 30s (meeting at work or a bar instead of on social media) and then maybe marrying and settling down or making a big exciting move for career reasons.

    It’s a fantasy with characters that are funny and just relatable enough to make it work. Yes, it was very white, but as Kudrow said, how could these writers have really written it otherwise? I grew up in the NYC area and I knew the show didn’t reflect reality. I also knew it was light entertainment and I didn’t need it to do that.

  8. bettyrose says:

    The funny thing about moving it to Brooklyn would be that original wasn’t about hipster/boho types (well, Phoebe, but she had survived homelessness as a child and wasn’t in any way a privileged hipster). Monica lived in her grandmother’s oversized, rent controlled apartment, Rachel had no qualms about being from money, Ross and Chandler were serious professionals, and Joey was a struggling actor from a blue collar ethnic background. There were already hipster enclaves in Brooklyn when Friends was on. It wasn’t supposed to be that. But a hipster Brooklyn version has already been done. It was called Girls. And that show was rightfully criticized for being tone deaf and self indulgent. There are so many more unique stories to be told.