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Friends Creator Regrets Show’s Lack of Diversity

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Few sitcoms have experienced as much enduring success as Friendsbut one of the show’s co-creators has regrets about representation in the series. In a conversation during ATX TV’s virtual festival, Marta Kauffman addressed the lack of diversity in Friends, which has an all-white main cast.

During a livestream panel June 7, Kauffman became emotional when asked what she wished she had known starting out in her career, according to Entertainment Tonight. “I wish I knew then what I know today,” she said, tearing up. “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,” she continued. “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? 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.”

Kauffman created Friends, which ran from 1994-2004, with David Crane, and she was most recently overseeing Netflix‘s Grace and Frankie. Her NBC sitcom was a massive hit, but has been criticized in recent years for its lack of diversity in casting.

Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe Buffay on Friends, reflected on the show’s all-white cast in an interview with The Sunday Times last month. Kudrow imagined how it would look if the series was created today. “It’d be completely different. It would not be an all-white cast, for sure”  she said. “I’m not sure what else, but to me, it should be looked at as a time capsule, not for what they did wrong.”

Her co-star David Schwimmer, who played Ross Geller on the show, has also spoken up about the show’s politics, calling it “groundbreaking in its time” during an interview with The Guardian last year. “But I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color,” he continued. “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.”

“Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends,” he added.

There are no current plans for a Friends reboot, but the cast is planning on reuniting for a special on HBO Max — the new, exclusive streaming home of the series — later this year.

This content was originally published here.

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