Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman on show’s lack of diversity: I’m embarrassed


An image featuring friends lead cast

“Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman says it was difficult for her to accept the criticism that the show received for lack of diversity. The New York-set sitcom, featuring an all-white cast– Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, ran from 1994 to 2004 but rarely featured a character of colour.

Kauffman, who in the past had said that it was “difficult and frustrating” to understand why people were so critical of the show, believes she came to realise the importance of on-screen representation following the George Floyd incident.

“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,” Kauffman, who co-created the show with David Crane, told The Los Angeles Times.

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“It was after what happened to George Floyd that I began to wrestle with my having bought into systemic racism in ways I was never aware of.

That was really the moment that I began to examine the ways I had participated. I knew then I needed to course-correct,” she added.

In an attempt to redeem herself, Kauffman said she has pledged USD 4 million to her alma mater, Brandeis University, to fund an endowed chair in the school’s African and African American studies department, one of the oldest in the US.

The writer-creator said in her future projects she will make sure to have a diverse team on board.

“I want to make sure from now on in every production I do that I am conscious in hiring people of color and actively pursue young writers of color. I want to know I will act differently from now on. And then I will feel unburdened.”

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