‘Friends’ creator ’embarrassed’ by big flaw in popular ’90s sitcom

After years of backlash, the Friends creator has finally apologized for the sitcom’s controversial issue, promising nearly $6 million in apologies.

Friends has long been criticized for its lack of diversity, but co-creator Martha Kaufman is finally ready to admit her failure – with a $4 million apology.

Kaufman, 65, struggled at first to understand the “challenging and frustrating” criticism of her television series, preferring to believe the successful series had been singled out, she told reporters. Los Angeles Times.

But nearly two decades after the show ended, Kaufman began to realize her mistakes. New York Post.

“I have learned a lot in the last 20 years,” Kaufman said in an interview with Zoom. “Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It hurts to look at myself in the mirror. I’m ashamed that I didn’t know anything 25 years ago.”

The popular show, which ran from 1994 to 2004, follows a group of six white heterosexual best friends living in Greenwich Village – a famous gay neighborhood – in New York City – a historically diverse city.

Throughout the show’s 10 years, the sitcom continued to whitewash New York and rarely featured characters of color.

Friends only two recurring characters of color are featured, both of which were inspired by the short-lived love interests of Ross Gellar (David Schwimmer).

Along with millions of other Americans, the 2020 murder of George Floyd prompted Kaufman to reckon with the country’s racist past and her own role in perpetuating systems of racism.

“I knew then that I needed to correct course,” she explained.

In an attempt to redeem herself, Kaufman promised her alma mater, Brandeis University, US$4 million (AU$5.8 million) to fund a chair in the school’s African and African American Studies department, one of the country’s oldest.

The Martha F. Kaufman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies “will support an outstanding scholar specializing in the study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora” and “will help the department recruit more experienced scholars and faculty.” , set long-term academic and research priorities, and provide students with new opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary scholarship,” the university in Waltham, Massachusetts, announced.

“It took me a long time to figure out how I internalized systemic racism,” Kaufman, who is reportedly worth nearly $600 million, told Brandeis.

“I worked very hard to become an ally, an anti-racist. And it seemed to me that this was a way to take part in the conversation from the point of view of a white woman.

Last year, Friends: Reunionwhich is broadcast locally on Binge, released in honor of the cult series, its beloved characters and loyal fans. The show faced renewed calls to address the flagrant lack of diversity, but Kaufman did not see fit.

“I don’t know how the two were connected. And I also don’t know how we could solve it in the context of that reunion, going into everything we did wrong. There were others,” she said. Los Angeles Times.

In recent years, Kaufman has spoken of her regrets about the show telling Hollywood Reporter prior to the reunion that there are “probably a hundred things I would have done differently”, but clarified that the cast was not deliberately chosen to be all white.

However, its co-writer Kevin Bright doubled down on the “chemistry” between Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry.

“I would be crazy if I didn’t hire these six actors. What can I say? Would I like Lisa to be black?” he said Hollywood Reporter.

Kaufman told Los Angeles Times that she has received “nothing but love” since she announced the promise along with “people admitting it was long overdue”.

“In this case, I finally literally put my money into what I say,” Kaufman said. “I feel like I was finally able to change the course of the conversation.”

“I must say that after I agreed to this and when I stopped sweating, it didn’t unload me, but raised me. But until I can get it right in my next production, it’s not over yet. From now on, I want to make sure that in every work I do, I consciously hire people of color and actively pursue young writers of color. I want to know that now I will act differently. And then I will feel unburdened.”

This story originally appeared on New York Post and reproduced with permission

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