Friends reunion hit with criticism as producers fail to book black actors in celebrity line-up

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The hotly-anticipated Friends reunion has been criticised for producers' failure to include any black celebrities as part of their all-star line-up.

Excitement went into overdrive last week when the first promo for the reunion was released, showing Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry walking arm in arm.

The show's iconic theme tune, I'll Be There For You, played in the background during the slow-motion clip, captioned: "The one with us finally getting together. May 27th @hbomax #friendsreunion."

HBO Max were quick to announce several big names who would feature in the special, including Justin Bieber, David Beckham and Lady Gaga, James Corden, Cara Delevigne and Reese Witherspoon, who played Rachel's sister, Jill.

However, the joy has now been accompanied by a backlash as fans noted that the line-up didn't include a single black star.

One person commented: "@FriendsTV it's been 17 years & y'all still haven't made any black friends? Lol smh. Just caught a look at the guests for the #FRIENDSREUNION and not a single black person. I knew all that talk about diversity was lip service. Count me out @hbomax."

A second wrote: "Just me, or is this reunion missing something? Thinking face (Pssst – the answer is Black celebrities making guest appearances.)"

A third added: '#riends #FriendsReunion @hbomax couldnt find any black actors for the reunion either just like the show they in nyc yet couldnt get 1 black friend."

Others also appeared baffled that the line-up didn't include Aisha Taylor, who played one of Ross' girlfriends.

The star was one of the few black actors to appear in the sitcom during its ten-year run – and the only one with a character arc over the course of a few episodes.

'I'm gonna be very unhappy if the #FriendsReunion doesn't have @aishatyler," a fan wrote.

The celebrity guest list also includes cameos from K-Pop band BTS, Cindy Crawford, Mindy Kaling, Kit Harington, Larry Hankin, Thomas Lennon and Malala Yousafzai.

Tom Selleck, who played Monica's boyfriend Richard, and James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther, will also be returning, along with Elliot Gould and Christina Pickles, who played Ross and Monica's parents. Maggie Wheeler, who starred as Janice, will also be making an appearance.

HBO Max recently confirmed that the unscripted special was taped on the original Friends soundstage on the Warner Bros Studio lot in Burbank, California.

It was announced last year that the Friends cast would be reuniting to celebrate the anniversary of the show before the reunion was pushed back multiple times amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the final episode, fans saw Chandler and Monica welcome their two twins, Rachel got off the plane and returned to New York to make things work with Ross, and Phoebe finally tied the knot with Mike, played by Paul Rudd.

The Friends reunion will debut on HBO Max on Thursday 27 May.

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