Lisa Kudrow Addresses Friends’ Lack of Diversity; Sees a Different Problem Back Then

Credit: Still Watching Netflix/YouTube Screenshot

Credit: Still Watching Netflix/YouTube Screenshot

Lisa Kudrow addresses the lack of diversity of the hit and iconic sitcom Friends and reveals a different problem that should have been tackled at the time. Eighteen years after the show ended, it has been frequently questioned for not casting people of color.

Friends premiered in 1994 and was on the air for a decade. Though it has been nearly two decades since the show concluded, it has remained one of the most popular series, still seen today through streaming networks. With that, it also continuously faces one controversy—the lack of diversity.

Friends’ Lack of Diversity

Friends had an all-white cast: Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry.

Most, if not all, of its guest stars, were also all white. The show’s co-creator Marta Kauffman acknowledged the series’ lack of diversity, donating $4 million to charity to make amends, per Screen Rant.

Now, Kudrow defends the show from these complaints, explaining the show’s writers, who were all white, were only writing what they were familiar with at the time.

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Hence, they had “no business” to write something about what it was like for people of color back then.

"Well, I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college. And for shows especially, when it’s going to be a comedy that’s character-driven, you write what you know,” she told The Daily Beast. “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?'"

However, Kudrow didn’t deny that Friends should have done more to lift and include the voices of people of color by providing new writers apprenticeships.

Friends’ Creators, Executive Producer Acknowledge Show’s Lack of Diversity

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, co-creators Kaufmann and David Crane and director and executive producer Kevin Bright acknowledged Friends’ lack of diversity.

They even said things might be different if the series were made today.

"If we did Friends today, no, I don't imagine they would probably end up being an all-white cast," Bright said.

They would be more aware, and a lot would change in the series.

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“To get them to behave realistically within this time, there would be a lot that would change about them. And the racial makeup of them would change because of that,” he continued.

Kauffman and Bright also stressed that the all-white cast of the hit NBC series wasn’t planned.

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"We didn't intend to have an all-white cast. That was not the goal, either," Bright explained. Obviously, the chemistry between these six actors speaks for itself."

Kauffman added there was no “conscious decision” back then. They all saw people of every race, religion and color.

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They cast six people, and choosing them wasn’t conscious.

“It wasn't because it was literally based on people, because it wasn't literal. You get an inspiration for someone, you write what you think their voice is going to be, but it wasn't literal,” he continued.

Anyhow, Aisha Tyler joined the series in 2003, making her the first Black actor with a recurring role since it started in 1994.

In an interview with InStyle in 2018, it was a milestone for both her and the show.

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