1. Charlie Wheeler
Sure, over the course of 10 seasons and 236 episodes, the Central Perk gang came across plenty of Black folks. You know, total non-caricatures, like Joey’s pathologically cheerful singing neighbor. The guy who wouldn’t stop saying “duties” during Chandler’s job interview. The self-defense instructor who thinks Ross is a psycho, and the divorce lawyer who knows he’s a psycho. There were even some real-deal actors who you’d recognize, like Obba Babatundé as a choreographer and Sherri Shepherd as a museum guide. Yet, none of them interacted with more than one or two of the show’s main cast. That’s because their characters weren’t people — they were people-shaped props, there to provide the illusion of depth and flavor in each main character’s life. Which is why we’re left, despite terrible rap songs claiming otherwise, with a single solitary sister who got the respect she deserves. So props to Aisha Tyler’s Charlie, a paleontologist who shares Gabrielle Union’s misfortune of dating both Joey and Ross’ no-stroke-having asses, for navigating that sea of caucasity with unbelievable aplomb. We all could have told her life was gonna be that way.