'Friends' co-creator Marta Kauffman explains why the show lacked diversity

·2 min read

On the CNN series History of the Sitcom airing Sunday, a look back at the rise of NBC’s Friends brought up what has become a common sentiment in recent years: the hit show’s lack of diversity. On this special, the topic was broached by former Designing Women actress Sheryl Lee Ralph.

“I never watched Friends because they could not possibly find a way to add anybody of color,” she said.

Marta Kauffman, co-creator and executive producer of Friends, also appeared on the episode. And while she has already apologized for the show’s diversity issue in the past, she gave further explanation as to how it came to be on Sunday.

“It was, to a certain extent, a product of the time period. And of my own ignorance,” Kauffman admitted. “There were black shows and there were white shows. There weren’t a lot of shows that were interracial.”

Friends ran from 1994 to 2004 and featured six white friends living in New York City, along with mostly white recurring guest stars. With the exception of two of Ross’s (David Schwimmer) girlfriends over the 10-year span. And that is something Schwimmer admitted he pushed for in an interview with The Guardian last year.

But for Kauffman, who said last year that if she knew then what she knows now, she would have made "very different decisions," the show was simply just based on the life experiences of her and her longtime friend, and the other Friends co-creator, David Crane.

“I guess at the time I was thinking, ‘This is what I know. This is what I know,’” Kauffman said.

History of the Sitcom currently airs on Sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.

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