The creator of the mega-popular show “Friends” is embarrassed about the lack of diversity on the show and she’s putting out a $4 million donation to make amends for her demographic sins.
Many on the left have long criticized the show for what they perceived was a relative lack of diversity among the actors despite it being set in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.
Co-creator Marta Kauffman said she initially was frustrated by the criticism and believed that the show was unfairly singled out.
She has since changed her mind.
“I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years,” Kauffman explained in an interview with Zoom. “Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago.”
Kauffman said that the protests against the death of George Floyd opened her eyes to the presence of racism in society.
“I knew then I needed to course-correct,” she said.
Kauffmann is donating $4 million to Brandeis University, her alma mater, to fund an endowed chair in their department of African and African American studies.
“It took me a long time to begin to understand how I internalized systemic racism,” Kauffman said.
“I’ve been working really hard to become an ally, an anti-racist,” she added. “And this seemed to me to be a way that I could participate in the conversation from a white woman’s perspective.”
One of the show’s stars, David Schwimmer, responded to criticism about diversity in 2020.
“I don’t care,” said Schwimmer to the Guardian at the time. “The truth is also that show was groundbreaking in its time for the way in which it handled so casually sex, protected sex, gay marriage and relationships. You have to look at it from the point of view of what the show was trying to do at the time.”
He also said that he pushed for his character, Ross, to date non-white characters on the show, and he did.
Here’s more about Schwimmer’s response to criticism:
David Schwimmer On ‘Friends’ Diversity Criticism