‘Friends’ Co-Creator Regrets Lack of Diversity on Show

June 8, 2020

A principal behind the hit sitcom “Friends” has spoken out about a criticism that has been lobbed at the beloved series before: its lack of diversity.

Marta Kauffman, one of the show’s co-creator’s, opened up about what she feels the series could have done differently to be a more diverse show. She made her comments during a panel at the ATX Television Festival, reports Deadline.

“I wish I knew then what I knew today, I would have made very different decisions,” Kauffman said.

“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? That’s something I wish I knew when I started showrunning but all the way up through last year,” the show’s co-creator added.

“Friends” aired from 1994 thru 2005 on NBC. The entire series is currently streaming on HBO Max.

“Friends” cast members have opened up about the show’s treatment of social issues before.

Speaking to The Guardian in January, David Schwimmer, who played Ross, defended the show as progressive for its time.

"The truth is also that show was groundbreaking in its time for the way in which it handled so casually sex, protected sex, gay marriage and relationships. The pilot of the show was my character's wife left him for a woman and there was a gay wedding, of my ex and her wife, that I attended," Schwimmer said.

"I feel that a lot of the problem today in so many areas is that so little is taken in context. You have to look at it from the point of view of what the show was trying to do at the time," he added. "I'm the first person to say that maybe something was inappropriate or insensitive, but I feel like my barometer was pretty good at that time. I was already really attuned to social issues and issues of equality."

In a May interview with The Sunday Times, Lisa Kudrow speculated on what her character, Phoebe Buffay, and her husband Mike Hanningan (played by Paul Rudd), would have been up to during coronavirus.

"I feel like if they'd had kids she would be militaristic about creating art," Kudrow explained. "So their place would be overrun with huge, outlandish projects."

Kudrow also said the show would be “completely different” if it was on in 2020.

"Well, it would not be an all-white cast, for sure. I'm not sure what else, but, to me, it should be looked at as a time capsule, not for what they did wrong. Also, this show thought it was very progressive," Kudrow told The Times. "There was a guy whose wife discovered she was gay and pregnant, and they raised the child together? We had surrogacy too. It was, at the time, progressive."

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