The Plague Of Whiteness In "Friends"

The Plague Of Whiteness In "Friends"

How Friends and Hollywood ignored socioeconomic norms in their casting

Clap, clap, clap, clap. If you're a "Friends" fan like me, then you know what I'm talking about.

The popular sitcom first aired on September 22, 1994 and was wildly successful. "Friends" received 62 Emmy nominations and has received recognition from many magazines and critics as one of the best TV shows of all time. And I agree. In the five or six years I have been obsessed with this show, I only focused on the story lines. How Rachel and Ross's love story was so complicated, how Joey was such a womanizer but was so sweet and innocent, how Chandler struggled with his childhood, how Phoebe overcame every obstacle she faced as a child, how Monica battled her obesity to become one of the best chefs in New York City and every other instance astounded and captivated me. There's no doubt that it's one of the best shows to ever grace television. But recently, I began focusing on something other than the story lines. I began focusing on the people. My question when I first started watching was, "how can this get any better?" but my question now is "how can this be any less accurate?"

"Friends" is set in New York City during the 90's, one of the largest economical growth periods in history. Money was being made and being made fast. But for six friends in their early twenties, I would have expected them to be struggling in the city of dreams, and at times they were. At different points in the series, each character had been unemployed. My confusion recently is how in the world did they manage to remain living in the biggest apartments? How did they continue to pay rent and eat without jobs? Consider this: you are a poor, barely employed person living in New York City. Where do you live and what do you look like? I asked myself this question and time and time again I kept running into the same answer. You are probably living in a poor neighborhood and you most likely have brown skin. After this realization, my ultimate question then shifted to this "WHERE ARE ALL THE BROWN PEOPLE?!"

There was not a singular person of color on the Friends main cast. The only splurges of brown we see are Gabrielle Union, who was present in one episode, and Aisha Tyler who was present in nine episodes. Lauren Tom, an actress of Chinese descent, was present in seven episodes. Yes. There were seventeen episodes out of 236 where people of color were present. I was puzzled by this disproportionate factor. It was the 90's. There were TV shows like "Martin," "Living Single," "Family Matters," "Sister Sister," "The Steve Harvey Show," "The Jaime Foxx Show," "Moesha," and who could ever forget dark-skinned Aunt Viv on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"? So many more sitcoms that centered the life of brown people were reaching peaks of success and yet NBC couldn't find one brown character to be on their main cast? It's troubling to me as this is my second favorite sitcom of all time ("Living Single" will always be number one because Maxine Shaw Attorney at Law will always be the Maverick and preached true things like this).

These shows all had fantastic writers and their plots were incredible. They faced real and serious topics with amazing talent. I'm still reminded of the episode of "The Steve Harvey Show" where the conversation around guns and drugs in the 90's was the main plot. "Living Single" and "Martin" displayed the importance of HBCUs. "Sister Sister" and "Moesha" featured characters who were young and Black and attending college. "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" demonstrated what it was like to be Black and rich after coming from the hood. Will Smith portrayed a young man who stayed true to himself and his Black culture even when people around him were uncomfortable. These sitcoms told the story of us. They were the epitome of "Unapologetically Black."

Even today, majority of sitcoms and dramas neglect the importance of Brown skin and our stories. Thanks to "Scandal," "Grey's Anatomy," "How to Get Away with Murder," "Blackish," "Sleepy Hollow," "Being Mary Jane," "Underground WGN," "Empire," and Tyler Perry's many successful shows, we now see people of color in starring roles, but there is still plenty of room for us to fill. The talent is out there, we just need the opportunity to showcase it. Hollywood has progressed in small increments, but when they realize people want to know us, they will experience success like never before.

Shonda Rhimes, one of the most successful show creators and writers of all time, said this during the Black Girls Rock! celebration on BET, "Don’t look up here to us, put us in your rearview mirror. Change the world. Then change it again." So, if you are an aspiring writer, costume designer, producer, actor, or director willing to tell the stories of people of color, please do not stop. Keep reaching for your dreams and I guarantee you'll grasp them. We need you. We need to hear your stories, so keep going.

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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

I will always love you, Akon.

Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

SEE ALSO: 23 Iconic Disney Channel Moments We Will Never Forget

3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

SEE ALSO: 20 Of The Best 2000's Tunes We Still Know Every Word To

30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

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The 11 Best Moments Of The 2019 Grammy Awards

Music's biggest night was filled with some very special moments.


It's finally awards season! This year, the Grammy Awards was filled with twists, turns, and many guest appearances. There was an abundance of new winners, many of whom made history, as well as performances that were unlike any others from the past. To relive one of music's biggest nights, here are Sunday night's best and most memorable moments.

1. Camila Cabello's opening performance.

Camila Cabello

The Cuban-American singer kicked off the night with a fresh performance of her hit song "Havana." Surrounded by colorful set pieces and an array of diverse dancers, Camila was joined onstage by Young Thug, Ricky Martin, and J Balvin. A newspaper that read "Build Bridges Not Walls" was held up by J Balvin before he began singing "Mi Gente," making a political statement only a few moments into the show.

2. Alicia Keyes' Girl Squad included Michelle Obama.

Alicia Keyes

Four powerful women entered the stage as Alicia Keyes' right-hand ladies, including Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett-Smith, J-Lo, and surprise: Michelle Obama! The audience went crazy when they saw her enter the stage, and her speech about how music helps people connect and share their stories was beautiful and true.

3. Miley Cyrus joins Shawn Mendes onstage.

Shawn Mendes and Miley Cyrus

Grammy rehearsals have sparked a new friendship from these two and I am here for it. Shawn began his first ever Grammy performance behind a piano, turning his Rock and Roll hit "In My Blood" into a beautiful ballad.

Halfway through the song, he grabbed his guitar and met a special guest onstage: Miley Cyrus! Viewers' hearts melted as the pair belted out the final note so perfectly. Collaboration in the future, perhaps? Let's hope so!

4. John Mayer's super sweet gesture to Alicia Keyes in 2004.

John Mayer and Alicia Keyes

Alicia Keyes revealed that when John Mayer won the Grammy for Song of the Year over her 15 years ago, he broke the award in half and gave the second piece to her. He believed she deserved to win as well, so the two now share joint custody of the Grammy. How sweet!

5. Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus' "Jolene" duet.

Dolly Parton Tribute

Miley's rendition of the Dolly Parton hit was my anthem back in 2012. Hearing her sing it again, but this time with the legend that the song belongs to, was something so special. It was definitely a duet to be remembered.

6. Alicia Keyes' mash-up.

Alicia Keyes Grammy Performance

Alicia showed off her pipes by singing a mashup of all the different songs that she wished she had written herself. Her performance was done by not one, but two pianos. Her talent is too much to handle.

7. Dan and Shay show off their talent.

Dan and Shay Grammys

"Tequila" should win all the Grammys. This country duo proves time and time again just how insanely talented they are. Their acoustic version of their hit song was ended with the most beautiful and insanely long high note that will go down in Grammy history.

8. Drake's inspiring message to the music industry.

Drake Grammys

Drake took home the Grammy for Best Rap Song and his speech was one that no viewer will forget. He suggested that musicians don't need a Grammy to feel like they're successful and revealed that the music industry is just opinion based.

"You've already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word if you are a hero in your hometown. If there are people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don't need this right here. I promise you, you already won."

You tell 'em!

9. The Music Educator Award.

Music Educator Winner

Every year, the Grammys recognizes an educator that has made a significant contribution to the field of musical education. This year's winner was Jeffrey Redding, a high school teacher in Orlando, Florida. This award is a beautiful way of recognizing how important teachers of the arts are to our education programs.

10. Cardi B makes history.

Cardi B Grammy win

Cardi B won Best Rap Album and became the first solo female artist to win the award. Cardi was the only woman nominated in her category, making her an icon to women in music everywhere. She was filled with nerves when giving her acceptance speech, which proved just how grateful she was.

11. A tribute to Aretha Franklin.

Aretha Franklin tribute

After the passing of the Queen of Soul this year, the Grammys put together a tribute for her featuring an array of talented artists. Aretha has left behind a legacy that no one will ever be able to forget about.

The rest of the awards season awaits! Oscars, Tonys, and Emmys: here we come.

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