Lisa Kudrow Says Friends Writers Had “No Business” Writing About People of Color

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The post Lisa Kudrow Says Friends Writers Had “No Business” Writing About People of Color appeared first on Consequence.

You don’t need to be a Friends expert to notice that the long-running sitcom is extremely white — so much so that co-creator Marta Kauffman donated millions to her alma mater Brandeis University’s African-American studies department. Money can’t change the past, but in a new interview with The Daily Beast, Lisa Kudrow opined that the show’s writers had “no business” writing about “being a person of color” in the show.

“[Friends] was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college,” the real-life Phoebe Buffay said. “And for shows especially, when it’s going to be a comedy that’s character-driven, you write what you know. They have no business writing stories about the experiences of being a person of color. I think at that time, the big problem that I was seeing was, ‘Where’s the apprenticeship?'”

Especially for being set in New York City, Friends’ character roster is disappointingly homogenous. Well-known actors of color like Gabrielle Union and Craig Robinson have made brief appearances; At a whole nine episodes, Aisha Tyler was the most frequently featured non-white actor when she played Charlie, a professor who dated both Joey and Ross.

Kauffman has long brushed off the accusations of whitewashing, up until the murder of George Floyd in 2020: “I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years,” Kauffman told the Los Angeles Times. “Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago.”

Kudrow does have a point about the lack of apprenticeships — how did Rachel become an assistant buyer at Bloomingdale’s so quickly? — and she’s right that white people should, in general, steer clear of writing about experiences people of color. We can think of one easy way to work around that, though: Hire more non-white actors.

Kudrow reunited with her former co-stars David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc last year for the one-off HBO Max special Friends: The ReunionIt included an encore performance of Kudrow’s Phoebe’s hit “Smelly Cat” with none other than Lady Gaga.

Lisa Kudrow Says Friends Writers Had “No Business” Writing About People of Color
Abby Jones

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