Friends Was Reimagined with an All-Black Cast: See Twitter Reactions to the Starry Table Read
The event was part of "Zoom Where It Happens," a live table read series presented by Black female artists whose goal is to raise activation, awareness and intention about the right to vote. The Friends-themed event was produced by Ryan Michelle Bathe, who performed alongside her husband Sterling K. Brown.
After the virtual table read, the couple went live on Instagram together.
"That was a lot of fun," said Brown, 44. "My wife produced it and she killed it and she had the sweet, kind idea to invite her husband and play along with her."
"This was a fun thing to do!" he added. "I rarely get to act with my wife."
They re-enacted a classic season 3 episode, "The One Where No One's Ready," which originally starred Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Courteney Cox (Monica), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler) and David Schwimmer (Ross).
The table read, hosted and narrated by Gabrielle Union, starred Brown as Ross, Bathe as Rachel, Uzo Aduba as Phoebe, Aisha Hinds as Monica, Kendrick Sampson as Joey and Jeremy Pope as Chandler. Cynthia Erivo also made an appearance to sing the show's theme song, "I'll Be There for You."
The reading was well-received on social media, with viewers particularly loving Brown and Bathe's coupling.
"#ZoomWhereItHappens omg I love seeing real BLACK LOVE!!!!!" tweeted Kerry Washington. "Yes to @SterlingKBrown and his better half Ms Ryan @michellechel."
Fans also enjoyed Aduba's interpretation of Phoebe, with one viewer calling it "inspired."
See more Twitter reactions below.
Friends has been criticized over the years for its lack of racial diversity, and co-creator Marta Kauffman got emotional while acknowledging the shortcomings earlier this summer at the virtual 2020 ATX TV festival.
"I wish I knew then what I know today," she said, according to Page Six. "Sorry, I just wish I knew then what I know now. I would've made very different decisions."
"We've always encouraged people of diversity in our company, but I didn't do enough and now all I can think about is what can I do?" she continued. "What can I do differently? How can I run my show in a new way? And that's something I not only wish I knew when I started showrunning, but I wish I knew all the way up through last year."
"I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color," he said. "One of the first girlfriends I had on the show was an Asian American woman, and later I dated African American women. That was a very conscious push on my part."