Friends was televised over 20 years ago!
Pander….Then pander some more….. Then take a Valium, fer cryin’ out loud!
Following a nearly six-month hiatus, Friends returned to streaming services in late May, materializing on HBO Max after previously being one of the crown jewels of Netflix. A reunion special was supposed to bow, too, but the pandemic forced that to be delayed. Still, the occasion has prompted plenty of fresh reflections on the perpetually popular program, and among these is cast and crew pointing out how it could have stood to be a lot more diverse.
Last month, Lisa Kudrow said she didn’t think the show would be “all-white” were it made today, echoing earlier comments made by one of her colleagues, David Schwimmer. Now one of its creators is saying much the same thing. According to Deadline, Marta Kauffman, who launched the show with David Crane, was a guest at the virtual version of the ATX Television Festival, and she acknowledged that the show, set in New York City, was a little too white.
“I wish I knew then what I knew today, I would have made very different decisions……….We’ve always encouraged people of diversity in our company, but I didn’t do enough. 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 showrunning but all the way up through last year.”Marta Kauffman
Despite admitting that the Friends that launched in 1994 would not look like a Friends launched in 2020, Kudrow did defend it, saying it managed to include plenty of cultural milestones, including having an episode with a lesbian wedding. “There was a guy whose wife discovered she was gay and pregnant, and they raised the child together?” Kudrow said in May. “We had surrogacy, too. It was, at the time, progressive.”
Back in January, Schwimmer told The Guardian he was “well aware of the lack of diversity” on the show, and that he campaigned to have Ross date non-white women. “One of the first girlfriends I had on the show was an Asian-American woman, and later I dated African American women,” Schwimmer said. “That was a very conscious push on my part.”