Why David Schwimmer Wanted Ross To Date Julie And Charlie On Friends

One of the key relationships of "Friends" was that of Ross and Rachel, played by David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston. The Ross and Rachel relationship timeline was a little bit messy at times, but it gave us pop culture references like "We were on a break!" and "You're my lobster." And the two of them were very much endgame for a lot of fans. But where would the fun be in a TV show if the two of them just got together and lived happily ever after? There had to be other people for the two of them to date. And Schwimmer wanted his character to date a specific type of woman.

Schwimmer explained in an interview with The Guardian that he "campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color . . . That was a very conscious push on my part." And he seems to have gotten his way. "Friends" fans will, of course, remember that even though Ross may have ended up with Rachel in the end, before that happened, at the start of Season 2, Ross's girlfriend was Julie, played by Lauren Tom, and at the end of Season 9 and through the beginning of Season 10, he dated Charlie, played by Aisha Tyler.

David Schwimmer was concerned about the lack of representation on Friends

Julie and Charlie, in the role of Ross's girlfriend, were some of the most prominent characters played by people of color in the entire 10-season run of "Friends."Ross and Joey, played by Matt LeBlanc, were also both romantically interested in Kristen, played by Gabrielle Union, in one episode of Season 7. Aisha Tyler says she's still recognized by her role as Charlie in the show, and for some, that recognition is due to her being a woman of color. She told ET, "To this day, people come up to me and go, 'Charlie, Charlie,' or they just go, 'Black girl from "Friends."'"

The reason that David Schwimmer pushed so hard for Ross to date non-white women on "Friends" was because he "was well aware of the lack of diversity [on the show,]" as he explained to The Guardian. And it's not the only time he's made that point. When Schwimmer was asked on ET about why it was important to him to have women of color as his love interests, he said, "That's just how I was raised, my parents were activists. I mean, it just felt wrong that there wasn't enough representation on this show." Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe Buffay, has also talked about the show's diversity issue, telling The Sunday Times that if "Friends" was made today, all six main characters wouldn't be white.

The issue of diversity on Friends weighed on one of its creators

"Friends" co-creator Marta Kauffman has also opened up about the show's lack of diversity, saying in an episode of CNN's "The History of the Sitcom" that "Friends" was "to a certain extent, a product of the time period and of my own ignorance . . . There weren't a lot of shows that were interracial. I guess at the time I was thinking, 'this is what I know.'" Kauffman has felt such guilt and embarrassment over the diversity lacking in "Friends" that she donated $4 million to Brandeis University to establish the Marta F. Kauffman '78 Professorship in African and African American Studies, which, according to Brandeis University, "will ensure the study of African and African American culture, history, and politics for generations." 

Along with the issue of diversity, there are some other parts of "Friends" that haven't necessarily aged well. But Schwimmer feels it's important to note some of the progressive and groundbreaking moments the sitcom did portray, including "protected sex, gay marriage[,] and relationships," via The Guardian. And for all of its issues, decades after "Friends" first aired, it's still one of the most popular sitcoms ever. It's been a number one streaming hit for MAX, and when it was available on Netflix, it was consistently ranked highly.