Friends creator issues apology for ’embarrassing’ lack of diversity on sitcom

Friends creator issues apology for ’embarrassing’ lack of diversity on sitcom

June 30, 2022

Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman has issued an apology for the 'lack of diversity' in the series 28 years on from its debut.

The popular sitcom was a huge global hit throughout the 90s and into the early 00s after its 1994 launch, getting fans hooked from its first episode.

But now Marta has admitted feeling that she is 'embarrassed' that she didn't make the show more inclusive at its inception due to the all-white main cast.

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Speaking in an interview with the Los Angeles Times she said: “I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years.

“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.”

The hit NBC show was based around the lives of Rachel Green, Monica Gellar, Phoebe Buffet, Ross Gellar, Joey Tribbiani and Chandler Bing, with Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry making up the lead ensemble.

The gang were seen navigating life in New York City as they found love, friendship, careers and themselves.

However, the popular cast has been criticised in recent years because of the lack of interaction with any characters of African-American, Latino or Asian origin, with Ross' girlfriends Charlie Wheeler (played by Aisha Tyler) and Julie (played by Lauren Tom) among the few that did feature.

Now writer Marta has pledged $4m (£3.2m) to her former educational institute, Brandeis University, to create an endowed professorship in African and African American studies, in hope of making amends.

Marta, 65, explained: “It took me a long time to begin to understand how I internalised systemic racism. And this seemed to me to be a way that I could participate in the conversation from a white woman’s perspective."

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David Schwimmer previously commented on the lack of diversity in the show during a chat with The Guardian in 2020.

He said: “I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of colour. 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”.

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