Hit sitcom Friends has been criticised for its lack of diversity many a time in the past and now Lisa Kudrow has an explanation to offer for it. According to the actor who played Phoebe, one of the six leads, the writers of the show wrote from their own point of view and could not have depicted the experiences of people of colour accurately.
In a conversation with The Daily Beast on Wednesday, she explained her take on the matter, “I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college. 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 colour.”
The creators of the 10-season series that aired from 1994-2004, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, are both white. They attended Brandeis, a private university with focus on liberal arts, located outside Boston, US.
In Kudrow’s opinion, the real issue lay with the mentorship of creatives of colour — she believes there was not enough being done for them. “I think at that time, the big problem that I was seeing was, ‘Where’s the apprenticeship?’”
In June, Kauffman too addressed the matter and acknowledged that her show was not very inclusive.“ Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy,“ she told Los Angeles Times. “It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago.”
The 65-year-old admitted that a rise in social and cultural movements allowed her to understand where she had erred. “It was after what happened to George Floyd that I began to wrestle with my having bought into systemic racism in ways I was never aware of,” she explained. “That was really the moment that I began to examine the ways I had participated. I knew then I needed to course-correct.”
In an attempt to do better, Kauffman made a $4 million donation to Brandeis University’s African and African American studies department. “I’m finally, literally putting my money where my mouth is,” she said.
Also starring five other white leads, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc, Friends came to an end 18 years ago but it is still popular among youngsters. The cast got together for a reunion special last year and had a big bump in their Instagram following right after they joined the app.