Friends, an insufferable show that is somehow always on mute in the corner of every waiting room, is once again rearing its head into contemporary conversation. Six months after David Schwimmer told The Guardian he was “well aware of the lack of diversity” on the show and claimed he “campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color,” a Friends creator is atoning.
Co-creator Marta Kauffman addressed the show’s lack of diversity during the digital 2020 ATX TV Festival, speaking through tears. “I wish I knew then what I know today. I would have made very different decisions,” she said. “We’ve always encouraged people of diversity in our company, but I didn’t do enough. Now all I can think about is what can I do? What can I do differently? How can I run my show in a new way? That’s something I wish I knew when I started showrunning but all the way up through last year.”
Does she wish she knew that New York is one of the most diverse cities on the planet? It’s true that Schwimmer’s character Ross dated an Asian woman (played by Lauren Tom) and a black woman (Aisha Tyler), but they were the exceptions on a predominantly white show that ran for a decade. In that same Guardian interview, Schwimmer said, “Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends,” seemingly unaware of the superior sitcom Living Single. I like to think what he was aiming for was something closer to, “Maybe there should be an all-black or an all-Asian show given the same resources to obtain the same level of popularity as Friends.”