‘Friends’ Creator Pledges $4M Over All-White Leads In Show

Wikimedia Commons, by Austin Green

“Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman is atoning for the lack of diversity in the NBC smash hit’s cast with a $4 million donation to fund African American studies at her alma mater. 

“It took me a long time to begin to understand how I internalized systemic racism,” Kauffman said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve been working really hard to become an ally, an anti-racist. And this seemed to me to be a way that I could participate in the conversation from a white woman’s perspective.”

The sitcom creator has pledged millions to Brandeis University to “support a distinguished scholar with a concentration in the study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.”

The Marta F. Kauffman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies will help the institution’s department to recruit more expert scholars and teachers, map long-term academic and research priorities and provide new opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary scholarship,” according to the university.  

The 90’s comedy has long been criticized for neglecting to represent the diversity of New York City by casting an all-white cast. Star Lisa Kudrow defended the show in a 2020 interview.  

“There was a guy whose wife discovered she was gay and pregnant, and they raised the child together? We had surrogacy too. It was, at the time, progressive,” she remarked

Though Kudrow noted that the show would be different if it was made today. “Well, it would not be an all-white cast, for sure. I’m not sure what else, but, to me, it should be looked at as a time capsule, not for what they did wrong,” she concluded. 

Kauffman clearly disagrees, and is paying a fortune to assuage her guilt. “I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years,” she commented. “Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago.”

She said that George Floyd’s death made her “wrestle” with having “bought into systemic racism” unconsciously.

“That was really the moment that I began to examine the ways I had participated. I knew then I needed to course-correct,” she concluded. “What makes this truly emotional for me is that I want this connection I didn’t have. I deeply, deeply want this connection with the black community that I didn’t have. Because of ‘Friends,’ I never attained that.”

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1 year ago


1 year ago

That’s good. Morons should have the least amount of access to money as possible. That’s 4 million less that he now has to do damage by lousy political donations.