‘Friends’ Executive Producer Says He Doesn’t ‘Have Any Regrets’ About All-White Cast After Backlash

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With the reunion finally hitting our screens, the creators of the award winning tv show Friends, have opened up about the criticism they received surrounding the diversity of the cast.

Marta Kauffman and Kevin Bright have opened up in separate conversations about Friends and diversity.

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And it’s safe to say their comments have ruffled a few feathers…

Bright said: “There are different priorities today and so much has changed.”

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“It’s important for today’s shows to be reflective of the ways society truly is,” he went on. “But for our experience, the three of us, that may have been our experience when we were young and in New York. But we didn’t intend to have an all-white cast. That was not the goal, either. Obviously, the chemistry between these six actors speaks for itself.”

Bright said he would have been “insane” not to hire those who were eventually cast in the roles.

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He also said that he didn’t have any regrets “other than hindsight.”
“What can I say? I wish Lisa was Black?” he said. “I’ve loved this cast. I loved the show and I loved the experience. I know Marta has a different feeling about it. I think it affects us all.”

Kauffman did indeed have a different opinion.

When posed the same question, the co-creator explained that there were “probably a hundred things” she’d have done differently if given the chance.

She said: “I’ve talked about it in the past and I do have very strong feelings about my participation in a system, but it comes down to I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”

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“There are many things that I could say if I only knew then what I know now. Back then, there was no conscious decision,” Kauffman continued. “We saw people of every race, religion, color. These were the six people we cast. So, it was certainly not conscious.”

Both agreed that if the pilot would have been written in 2021, it would have been ‘unrecognisable.’

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“We would be so aware. It would be integral to the chemistry and the conversation that these guys would be having,” he said. “Do they get together as much as they do on the show, or is this more of a social media back and forth?”

Kauffman: “You couldn’t write that pilot today. You couldn’t do it. They’d all be sitting on their phones.”

“So much would change, but to get them to behave realistically within this time, there would be a lot that would change about them,” he added. “And the racial makeup of them would change because of that. If we did Friends today, no, I don’t imagine they would probably end up being an all-white cast.”

They did point out that they experimented with diversity when others weren’t.

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For example, the same-sex wedding in season 2 was an example of inclusivity. Bright said: “When the show gets hammered about a lack of diversity, I like that episode also to be remembered as doing something that nobody else had done before.”

Kauffman did say she regretted “not doing more” to attack the role of diversity within the show.

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“I just wish I knew then what I know now. I would’ve made very different decisions.”

David Schwimmer apparently was a large push for diversity within the show.

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“I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color,” he said in an interview published last year. “One of the first girlfriends I had on the show was an Asian American woman, and later I dated African American women. That was a very conscious push on my part.”
The Reunion episode can be streamed on HBO Max now.
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