Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman addresses the show's lack of diversity
On Sunday night's episode of CNN's special History of the Sitcom, during a segment reflecting on the success of beloved '90s sitcom Friends, the lack of diversity on the show once again came to the forefront.
The topic was initially addressed by former Designing Women actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, who stated that she "never watched Friends because they could not possibly find a way to add anybody of color."
Marta Kauffman, co-creator and executive producer of Friends, also took part on the special and expounded further on the NBC show's diversity problem.
"It was, to a certain extent, a product of the time period and of my own ignorance," Kauffman said. "There were Black shows and there were white shows. There weren't a lot of shows that were interracial."
This isn't the first time the writer and producer has addressed the subject of the predominantly white extended cast. Last year, the creator discussed the lack of diversity during a panel at ATX TV Festival.
"I wish I knew then what I knew 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."
Kauffman continued, "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."
From 1994 to 2004, Friends told the stories of six white friends living in New York City and was based on the life experiences of Kauffman and her longtime friend and Friends co-creator, David Crane. Over the 10-year run, guest roles were also predominantly white with the exception of a couple of Ross's (David Schwimmer) girlfriends .
"I guess at the time I was thinking, 'This is what I know. This is what I know,'" said Kauffman on the CNN special.
History of the Sitcom airs Sundays nights at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on CNN.