Actress Lisa Kudrow is making headlines again for her shocking statements about the lack of diversity on “Friends.” The hit television series aired for NBC for ten seasons and without one single Black lead. Fans have raised hundreds of questions about the all-white cast why comedic actresses Aisha Tyler and Sherri Shepherd were the only Black recurring cast members.
In 2020, Kudrow, who played Phoebe on “Friends,” said the show “would not be an all-white cast” if it returned today. She doubled down on her statement in a new interview, where she attempted to explain why the show lacked diversity in its cast and character experiences.
“Well, I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college,” she told The Daily Beast. “And for shows especially, when it’s going to be a comedy that’s character-driven, you write what you know.”
“Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman, who attended Boston’s Brandeis University, previously apologized for “not doing enough” in the past. She stated that the series that aired from 1994 to 2004 was a “product of the time period, adding that it reflected the experiences of hers and fellow creator David Krane. Last month, the television producer pledged to donate $4 million to students studying Africa and the African Disapora at her alma mater.
However, Kudrow believes the white writers “have no business writing stories about the experiences of being a person of color.” She said, “I think at that time, the big problem that I was seeing was, ‘Where’s the apprenticeship?'”
Other outlets reported on Kudrow’s statements which circulated online, causing television lovers to chime in the conversation. Some felt her remarks reflected the time back then, but many acknowledged it was time to switch up the writer’s room.
One person said, “So you agree: Black writers should be in the room.”
A second individual offered a different perspective stating, “I think Lisa Kudrow saying ‘Friends’ had no business writing about black characters is an interesting take – there was most probably no black writers, so maybe she’s onto something – I don’t want to watch tacky caricatures of blackness. I think it could’ve really ruin the franchise.”
However, one opposed critic called it “forced diversity doesn’t work.” They said, “I wish shows would stop adding diverse characters when it just doesn’t make sense. I saw one episode of Friends and I can see why it was lily white.”
Fans countered the response by mentioning the show’s unrealistic encounters and how it copied “Living Single’s tv concept. One person said, “It’s not a true representation of life, though. Do you really think six people living in NY city could live their entire existence in that city, and non[e] of them ever become friends with someone of color?”
Another wrote, “The show was literally a version of the show ‘Living Single.’ You can take the idea from us but can’t see us in the world you created. Doesn’t make sense…..”
For years there have been rumors that “Friends” ripped off the all-black casted “Living Single.” Both series were based on six friends living together or close by as they navigate life and relationships in New York City.
David Schwimmer, who played Ross on “Friends,” was criticized for suggesting there should be an all-Black or an all-Asian version of the show. He told The Guardian in 2020, “I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color. 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.”
A handful hope Kudrow and others will stop addressing the show’s lack of diversity since it’s no longer on air. One person wrote, “Lisa Kudrow is right. But the ‘FRIENDS’ cast and crew need to stop apologizing and explaining the lack of diversity on FRIENDS. It was what it was, you can’t go back in time and change it.”