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12th Aug 2022

Lisa Kudrow hits back at fans complaining about lack of diversity in Friends

Danny Jones

She said they followed the rule: ‘write what you know’

Phoebe Buffay herself, Lisa Kudrow has come out to comment on the long-debated issue of Friends and the lack of diversity on the show throughout its 10 seasons on the air.

Talking to Daily Beast in a recent interview, while Kudrow didn’t go so far as to excuse or justify the show’s levels of cultural representation, she simply noted that it was a story about co-series creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane’s time at university.

Friends lack of diversity

“Well, I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis [University in Massachusetts] and wrote about their lives after college”, said the 59-year-old, adding that “for shows especially, when it’s going to be a comedy that’s character-driven, you write what you know.”

She went on to argue that while highlighting stories from different ethnic groups is obviously important, she believes that they had “no business writing stories about the experiences of being a person of colour”, adding that “at that time, the big problem that [she] was seeing was, ‘Where’s the apprenticeship?'” – ie ensuring that people of colour are hired in roles across TV production.

Kauffman herself has previously spoken out about the lack of representation on the show which ran from 1994 to 2003, stating that she was “embarrassed [she] didn’t know better 25 years ago” and even pledging $4 million to her old university’s African and African American studies department.

Even the much-anticipated reunion event held in 2021 was hit was criticism after very few people of colour appeared on the HBO broadcast, be they a former cast member or one of the numerous celebrities that appeared as a special guest.

Friends may have gone down as one of the most successful TV comedies of all time and it might have been a fairly truthful representation of the writers’ college years – but the idea of portraying a New York that features very few black, African-American, Latin, Asian or other minority ethnic groups does seem rather unrealistic.

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