'Friends' makers share an all-white cast was never the plan
The much-awaited Friends reunion has garnered rave reviews from fans and critics alike. While the show definitely took us back to the golden era of the 1990s, one cannot deny its shortcomings.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, series creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, and director and executive producer Kevin Bright, acknowledged that if the series were made today, the racial makeup of its six main stars would be different.
"If we did Friends today, no, I don't imagine they would probably end up being an all-white cast," Bright told the publication. "We would be so aware. So much would change, but to get them to behave realistically within this time, there would be a lot that would change about them. And the racial makeup of them would change because of that."
Friends, which starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer as six twenty-somethings living in New York, has received criticism in the past for its all-white, heteronormative cast.
Both Kauffman and Bright revealed that an all-white cast was never the plan. "We didn't intend to have an all-white cast. That was not the goal, either. Obviously, the chemistry between these six actors speaks for itself," Bright explained. Kauffman went on to add, "Back then, there was no conscious decision. We saw people of every race, religion, color. These were the six people we cast. So, it was certainly not conscious. And it wasn't because it was literally based on people, because it wasn't literal. You get inspiration for someone, you write what you think their voice is going to be, but it wasn't literal."
When asked if they would have done anything differently when making the series, Kauffman said, "there are probably a hundred things I would have done differently. I've talked about it in the past and I do have very strong feelings about my participation in a system, but it comes down to I didn't know what I didn't know."
Kevin Bright said he didn't have any regrets "other than hindsight." "I would have been insane not to hire those six actors," he went on. "What can I say 'I wish Lisa was Black' I've loved this cast. I loved the show and I loved the experience. I know Marta has a different feeling about it. I think it affects us all."
"It's important for today's shows to be reflective of the ways society truly is. But for our experience, the three of us, that may have been our experience when we were young and in New York," Bright further shared.