More than two decades after the worldwide famous sitcom debuted, co-creator Marta Kaufmann is addressing her role in FRIENDS lack of diversity.
More than 25 years since FRIENDS entered our lives, Kaufmann has answered the question that many fans of the show have begun to raise. The show’s co-creator accepted her responsibility and said that it was a product of her ignorance.
In a recent episode of CNN’s History of the Sitcom, Kauffman revealed that the 90’s show did lack diversity in its cast. “It was, to a certain extent, a product of the time period and of my own ignorance,” she said.
Lack Of Diversity In The Sitcom
Kauffman also mentioned that during the time FRIENDS originally aired, there were almost no shows that were interracial when it comes to casting. “There were Black shows and there were white shows. There weren’t a lot of shows that were interracial.” She elaborated that this was the way things worked and it was all she knew.
However, she reflected on the issue and commented that she has grown a lot from that mindset. “I wish I knew then what I know today,” she admitted. Kauffman also said that she did not do enough even if they have always encouraged people of diversity in their company.
“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 show running, but all the way up through last year,” she said to highlight her growth from the FRIENDS lack of diversity.
David Schwimmer’s Opinion On The Casting
While it’s true that the show consists predominantly of white actors and fell short on the diversity front, some of the stars have pointed out how the show was still very advanced and progressive for its time in certain ways.
David Schwimmer, who played Ross Gellar, previously told The Guardian that FRIENDS was “groundbreaking” for its time. The show featured casual sex, female independence, as well as gay marriages back in the day.
“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.
In the course of the show, Ross Gellar’s character also had multiple relationships with diverse characters. Played by Lauren Tom and Aisha Tyler, Gellar was seen in a serious relationship with an Asian American woman and an African American woman.
“Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends,” Schwimmer told The Guardian. “But I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color. 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,” he stated.