“You write what you know,” Kudrow said of the lack of diversity in the sitcom.
Lisa Kudrow is standing by her “Friends.”
The sitcom alum addressed the news that “Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman donated $4 million to her alma mater Brandeis University to establish a fund to support scholars studying Africa and the African diaspora upon reflection over the lack of diversity in the hit sitcom series, which ran from 1994 to 2004. Kauffman admitted that she was “embarrassed” and felt the need to “course-correct” by way of the academic fund.
“Friends” star Kudrow, who led the series alongside David Schimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc, told The Daily Beast that Kauffman understandably wrote about her experience as a post-grad.
“I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college,” Kudrow explained. “And for shows especially, when it’s going to be a comedy that’s character-driven, you write what you know.”
She continued, “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?’”
Kauffman is now setting out to be that apprentice: The “Grace and Frankie” showrunner previously explained to the Los Angeles Times that diverse storytelling is her personal mission.
“I want to make sure from now on in every production I do that I am conscious in hiring people of color and actively pursuing young writers of color,” Kauffman shared. “I want to know I will act differently from now on. And then I will feel unburdened.”
As for revisiting “Friends,” however, Kudrow claimed there will “never” be a “Friends” movie.
“[Co-creators] Martha [Kauffman] and David [Crane] would be approached, but none of us would think of moving without them,” Kudrow concluded. “But they always thought, ‘No, no. Here’s what we did. This is what we had for you.’”
The legacy of “Friends” continues to be debated, with actor Daniel Dae Kim feeling “Lost” when watching the series with his AAPI children.
“When my kids are watching shows, my wife and I always did this natural thing, which was whenever there was an Asian face on screen, to point it out to say, ‘Look,’” Kim opened up earlier this year. “Just by doing that, it kind of created a dynamic where you would notice when you didn’t see it.”
Kim added, “My kids loved ‘Friends’ because they would watch repeats and they would say to me, ‘Hey, how come in their New York everyone is white?’ ‘Thank you for thinking about that,’ I would tell them. Because it’s true. As much as I love that show, when it came to diversity it was…it was…challenged, shall we say.”
He said, “When we see a show that has no minority representation, we’d say, ‘Wow that, that’s an awfully homogeneous cast.’ It’s important that we look at all of our entertainment through our lens. But it always says something about the way that I grew up.”