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Friends Creator Apologises Over Show's 'Embarrassing' Lack Of Diversity

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Friends Creator Apologises Over Show's 'Embarrassing' Lack Of Diversity

Although Friends is one of the most adored '90s sitcoms ever, it has faced criticism for its lack of diversity.

The NBC sitcom focused on the lives of six pals living in a rather large apartment in the melting point that is New York City.

Co-creator Marta Kauffman has opened up about what she has learned and has apologised for the lack of diversity in the series.

In a new interview with The Los Angeles Times, Kauffman said: “I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years.

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“Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago.”

Marta Kauffman has apologised for the lack of diversity in Friends. Credit: Shutterstock.
Marta Kauffman has apologised for the lack of diversity in Friends. Credit: Shutterstock.

When Friends debuted in 1994 it became an instant success. Kauffman and co-creator David Crane went with an all-white main cast made up of Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry. Their characters rarely interacted with African-American, Brown, Latino or Asian characters. Two of the most notable examples happen to be Ross’ ex-girlfriends; Charlie Wheeler (played by Aisha Tyler) and Julie (played by Lauren Tom).

“It took me a long time to begin to understand how I internalised systemic racism,” Kauffman explained.

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The 65-year-old television writer has pledged $4m (£3.2m) to her alma mater, Brandeis University to create an endowed professorship in the African and African American studies department.

And this seemed to me to be a way that I could participate in the conversation from a white woman’s perspective,” she said of her donation.

The cast of Friends. Credit: Warner Bros.
The cast of Friends. Credit: Warner Bros.

In a statement Kauffman added the fund will 'support a distinguished scholar with a concentration in the study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora'.

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Kauffman also discussed some of her regrets at the virtual 2020 ATX TV festival.

"I wish I knew then what I knew today, I would have made very different decisions," she said, according to Deadline.

"We've always encouraged people of diversity in our company, but I didn't do enough. Now all I can think about is what can I do, what can I do differently. How can I run my show in a new way?

The cast reunited in 2021. Credit: HBO Max.
The cast reunited in 2021. Credit: HBO Max.
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"That's something I wish I knew when I started showrunning but all the way up through last year."

David Schwimmer, the actor who famously played Ross Geller in all 10 seasons, called out the show’s lack of diversity in 2020.

“I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of colour,” Schwimmer told The Guardian in 2020.

“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”.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock/Warner Bros.

Topics: TV And Film, Friends

Gregory Robinson
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