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'Friends' Co-Creator Says She 'Didn't Do Enough' for Diversity

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Marta Kauffman is reflecting on the lack of diversity in Friends. During day three of ATX TV's virtual festival, the sitcom's co-creator expressed regret over not diversifying the series, which ran from 1994 to 2004 and starred  Jennifer AnistonCourteney CoxLisa KudrowMatt LeBlancMatthew Perry and David Schwimmer.

"I wish I knew then what I know today," she said, before apologizing for getting emotional. "Sorry. I just wish I knew then what I know now. I would’ve made very different decisions."

"I mean we’ve always encouraged people of diversity in our company, but I didn’t do enough. And 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?" Kauffman, who most recently was overseeing Netflix's Grace and Frankie series, continued. "And that’s something I not only wish I knew when I started showrunning, but I wish I knew all the way up through last year."

Marta Kauffman

Marta Kauffman

Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Earlier this year, Schwimmer told The Guardian that he often advocated for his Friends character, Ross Geller, to date women of color as a way to offset the all-white main cast. 

"I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color," he said.  "One of the first girlfriends I had on the show was an Asian American woman, and later I dated African American women. That was a very conscious push on my part."

"I'm very aware of my own privilege as a heterosexual white male whose parents were able to pay for a private education for me," he continued. "I've always felt a sense of responsibility to give back and to call things out if I see an abuse of power."

The cast of the series is set to reunite for an unscripted special on HBO Max, the new streaming service that's currently airing the show. Until then, watch the video below for more on Friends.

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