Released in the late 90s and early 2000s, Friends – which follows an adorable group of twenty-somethings living in New York City – is still undeniably a huge hit among fans today, especially since it was added to Netflix in 2015.
But in recent years some aspects of Friends have been reviewed and criticized by viewers – namely the lack of diversity within its all-white main cast, which includes Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.
And some of the main actors themselves addressed the heaps of criticism Friends faced its casting, with David – who played Ross Geller in all ten seasons of the show – even revealing a few years ago that he had made a “conscious push” for the show to hire more diverse actors.
“I was well aware of the lack of diversity and campaigned for years for Ross to date women of color,” he said. said. “One of the first girlfriends I had on the show was an Asian American, and later I dated African American women. It was a very conscious push on my part.
Well, now another of Friends Lead cast member Lisa addressed the lack of diversity, seemingly justifying the writers’ decisions as she claimed they were based on their personal experiences.
Lisa, who played fan favorite Phoebe Buffay, sat down with The daily beast Wednesday for a high-profile interview, during which she was asked what she thought of the show’s diversity.
“I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis [University] and wrote about their life after college,” she said. “And for shows in particular, when it comes to character-driven comedy, you write what you know.”
“They have nothing to do with writing stories about the experiences of being a person of color. I think at that time the big issue I was seeing was, ‘Where’s the learning?’ “, she added.
However, Lisa added that if Friends were to be remade today, it would have to include a “different” and “more diverse” cast.
“I think if there were ever to be something like [a Friends movie]if Marta [Kauffman] and David [Crane] never signed something like that, it would have to be a different cast at that age,” she said, referring to the show’s co-creators. “I think it should be more current – and more diverse representation isn’t a bad idea, you know?”
Along the same lines, Lisa explained a few years ago that a Friends reboot would be “completely differentfrom the original series. “It wouldn’t be an all-white cast, that’s for sure,” she said, before clarifying that she thinks the show “should be viewed as a time capsule, not for what [it] did wrong.
Additionally, co-creator Marta recently expressed regret over the writers’ decision to include an all-white main cast. So much so, in fact, that just a few months ago she promised $4 million to the Department of African and African American Studies at Brandeis University.
“I’ve learned a lot over the past 20 years,” she says. “Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It’s painful to look at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I don’t know better 25 years ago.
Marta’s engagement came just over a year later Friends executive producer Kevin Bright addressed criticism of the show”all white, heteronormativemain cast.
Echoing Lisa’s last remarks about sticking to writing “what you know,” Kevin Explain that he and the other writers based their casting on their own experiences when they were “young and in New York.”
“We didn’t intend to have an all-white cast,” he said. “That wasn’t the goal either. Obviously, the chemistry between these six actors speaks for itself.
Kevin went on to note that it is “important that today’s shows reflect the reality of society”, although he was quick to claim that he had no regrets on his casting choices.
“I have no regrets other than the hindsight,” he said. “I would have been crazy not to cast these six actors. What can I say? I wish Lisa was black? I loved that casting. I loved the show and I loved the experience. I know Marta has a different feeling about it, I think it affects us all.
Interestingly, Marta also recently admitted to regretting the show’s treatment of another topic surrounding one of the main characters. transgender parents.
Fans will likely recall that Chandler Bing, played by Matthew Perry, had a transgender parent whose stage name was “Helena Handbasket.” However, the characters still mistreated her, referring to her as “Chandler’s father”.
Talking about the subject BBC News last month, Marta spoke about the show “continuing to reference [Helena] as “Chandler’s father”, even though Chandler’s father was trans.
“Pronouns weren’t something I understood yet, so we didn’t refer to this character as ‘her,'” she admitted. “It was a mistake.”