Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman recently reflected on the lack of diversity in Friends. During day three of ATX TV’s virtual festival, the series’ co-creator expressed her regret over not diversifying the sitcom, which ran from 1994 to 2004 and starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.
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“I wish I knew then what I know today,” Kauffman said. “Sorry. I just wish I knew then what I know now. I would’ve made very different decisions.”
“I mean we’ve always encouraged people of diversity in our company, but I didn’t do enough. And 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?” Kauffman, who most recently was executive producing Netflix’s Grace and Frankie series, continued. “And that’s something I not only wish I knew when I started showrunning, but I wish I knew all the way up through last year.”
Earlier in 2020, Schwimmer told The Guardian that he often advocated for his Friends character, Ross Gellar, to date women of color as a way to offset the all-white main cast.
“I was well aware of the lack of diversity [on Friends] and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color,” he told the publication at the time. “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.”
“I’m very aware of my own privilege as a heterosexual white male whose parents were able to pay for a private education for me,” Schwimmer continued. “I’ve always felt a sense of responsibility to give back and to call things out if I see an abuse of power.”
The cast of Friends is set to reunite for an unscripted Friends special on HBO Max, the new streaming service that’s currently airing the sitcom.