With an ensemble cast of Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, the NBC sitcom ran from 1994 to 2004 and became one of the most popular TV series of all time.
However, like many comedy shows or movies, Friends has been part of a cultural reexamining in recent years as modern viewers question themes of homophobia, sexism and the cast’s lack of diversity.
“There’s a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of Friends and find them offensive,” Aniston – who is promoting her new Netflix comedy with Adam Sandler, Murder Mystery 2 – told the Associated Foreign Press (via Yahoo!).
“There were things that were never intentional and others… well, we should have thought it through, but I don’t think there was a sensitivity like there is now,” Aniston added.
Friends creator Marta Kauffman recently said she was “embarrassed” by the show’s lack of diversity and pledged $4m (£3.2m) to fund an endowed chair at Brandeis University’s African and African American Studies department.
“Comedy has evolved, movies have evolved,” Aniston continued. “Now it’s a little tricky because you have to be very careful, which makes it really hard for comedians, because the beauty of comedy is that we make fun of ourselves, make fun of life.
“You could joke about a bigot and have a laugh. That was hysterical. And it was about educating people on how ridiculous people were, and now we’re not allowed to do that,” she complained.
“Everybody needs funny! The world needs humour! We can’t take ourselves too seriously. Especially in the United States. Everyone is far too divided.”
Aniston is the latest star to wade in on the debate surrounding the evolution of comedy.
Rowen Atkinson said in a recent interview that “the job of comedy is to offend, or have the potential to offend, and it cannot be drained of that potential”.
“Every joke has a victim. That’s the definition of a joke. Someone or something or an idea is made to look ridiculous.”
Murder Mystery 2 premieres on Netflix on 31 March.