'F.R.I.E.N.D.S' co-creator Marta Kauffman acknowledges sitcom's lack of diversity
The co-creator of the long-running sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Marta Kauffman, has reacted to the long-standing claims about the show's controversial lack of diversity. She has acknowledged that it took her a long time to understand how she had internalized "systemic racism." And, to work toward the cause, she recently pledged $4M to establish a professorship in Brandeis University's African and African American Studies Department.
Why does this story matter?
F.R.I.E.N.D.S, which ran successfully between 1994-2004, is considered a cult classic and starred actors like Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer. A bona fide global phenomenon, it also drew flak for being "too white" and lacking on the multicultural front since it hardly had any actors of color. Previously, Kauffman denied these allegations and labeled them "unfair."
'I have been working really hard to become an ally'
Notably, Kauffman made the donation to her alma mater, from where the 65-year-old showrunner-writer received a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater in 1978. She said, "I have been working really hard to become an ally, an anti-racist. And this [the donation] seemed to me to be a way that I could participate in the conversation from a white woman's perspective."
Kauffman will now focus on working with people of color
While speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Kauffman acknowledged that the tragic George Floyd incident helped her learn and introspect. "I have learned a lot in the last 20 years. I am embarrassed that I didn't know better 25 years ago." Determined to set things right, Kauffman added she will be "conscious in hiring people of color and actively pursue young writers of color."
What is the aforementioned professorship about?
Per Deadline, the said professorship will "support a scholar with a concentration in the study of the cultures of Africa." It will also help the department "recruit more scholars and teachers while helping to give students more opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary scholarship." Brandeis University's President Ron Liebowitz thanked Kauffman, too, saying, "We are so grateful to Marta for her generosity and vision."
Kauffman has been active in entertainment industry since 1987
Kauffman has had a long and distinguished career and is credited with breathing life into F.R.I.E.N.D.S along with co-creator David Crane. She started her career with the 1987 show Everything's Relative where she served as a writer for one episode. Her other major credits include the long-running sitcom Grace and Frankie (2015-2022), Seeing Allred, Veronica's Closet, and Dream On, among others.