Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman has expressed regret that she “didn’t do enough” to promote diversity on the sitcom.
The series, which ended in 2004, has been criticised in recent years for its lack of diversity in the main cast, alongside transphobic, sexist and racist jokes.
Speaking at an ATX TV… from the Couch panel (via Page Six), Kauffman was asked about what she wished she’d known when she started her career.
“I wish I knew then what I know today,” she said tearfully. “Sorry, I just wish I knew then what I know now. I would’ve made very different decisions.
“I mean we’ve always encouraged people of diversity in our company, but I didn’t do enough and 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?” Kauffman added. “And that’s something I not only wish I knew when I started showrunning, but I wish I knew all the way up through last year.”
Kauffman appeared on the panel alongside The Vampire Diaries showrunner Julie Plec, whose own show is made up of a largely white cast, and added: “That has been the hardest pill for me to swallow, is that I’m part of that group.”
A Black Lady Sketch Show creator Robin Thede was also on the panel, and explained: “You guys are just as much a part of systemic racism as well because it’s a system. That’s what I keep telling people. It’s not one person being racist ruining everything, it’s a system that was set up by racists to encourage and teach racism and disguise it.
“No one was supposed to know it was wrong, that was the point. We were supposed to look like we were yelling for no reason. We were supposed to look like kneeling was an offence to the flag and not a cry to stop killing us. We’re supposed to be made to look bad and now people know better and when you know better, you do better and that’s all that people are asking for.”
Friends star Lisa Kudrow recently suggested that the show would have a more diverse cast if it were made today.
“Oh, it’d be completely different,” she told The Sunday Times. “Well, it would not be an all-white cast, for sure. I’m not sure what else, but, to me, it should be looked at as a time capsule, not for what they did wrong.”