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Lisa Kudrow Says ‘Friends’ Creators Had No Business Writing People of Color

friends cast being white af

Friends has been at the center of a lot of conversations about whiteness and lack of diversity with the show. Lisa Kudrow has become the latest person to be asked about this. In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Kudrow was asked about Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman’s recent donation and comments about the lack of diversity on the show.

“Well, I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college,” Kudrow said. “And for shows especially, when it’s going to be a comedy that’s character-driven, you write what you know. They have no business writing stories about the experiences of being a person of color. I think at that time, the big problem that I was seeing was, ‘Where’s the apprenticeship?'”

Marta Kauffman is the co-creator of Friends and admitted in an interview with the L.A. Times that she used to find the criticism of a lack of diversity on the show “unfair.”

“I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years,” Kauffman said. “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. ” As part of her reparations for this, she has started The Marta F. Kauffman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies, which “will support a distinguished scholar with a concentration in the study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora,” according to the L.A. Times.

Adding to Friends‘ reputation are the allegations of Amaani Lyle, who was hired as a writers’ assistant during the sixth season of Friends. Lyle claimed that executive producers Adam Chase and Gregory Malins made sexual and racist jokes—jokes that the men admitted to, but claimed “they were not guilty of harassment, adding that their sexual comments were not directed at Lyle and they had been a necessary part of the creative process,” according to a Buzzfeed report. The court agreed with those men.

One thing that is worth asking is “Why Friends?” One could argue that shows like Fraiser, Seinfeld, and others of the same time period are equally white, but they aren’t called out as often as Friends. In my opinion, it feels different because Friends (and How I Met Your Mother) are about friendship and a ragtag group of friends in various industries in midtown Manhattan. To not know Black people or have even a singular non-white friend is … very odd.

Frasier is more of a family drama and takes place in Seattle, which at the time the show took place in, was over 70% percent white. Seinfeld is set in New York and isn’t super diverse, but at least they had some recurring Black characters. Friends went on for ten seasons and came on after shows like Living Single, A Different World, and other Black American sitcoms that were successful and ushered in a state of diversity that subsequent white creators ignored. Now, they have to deal with that fallout.

Just a reminder that it is find to write what you know, but you can also bring in more writers for a diverse writers’ room.

(via The A.V. Club, featured image: NBC)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.