While Friends was one of the most popular sitcoms of the late ’90s, the show did not come without its own criticism. The titular friend group consisted of six very straight and white twentysomethings who notoriously lived in New York City, one of the most diverse cities in the world. And how did they make all that money anyway?!
Co-creator Marta Kauffman feels “embarrassed” for the show’s legacy. Kauffman credits 2020 and the murder of George Floyd as a catalyst that made her feel “guilt” for how she approached Hollywood and her show. It was after what happened to George Floyd that I began to wrestle with my having bought into systemic racism in ways I was never aware of,” Kauffman told the LA Times. “That was really the moment that I began to examine the ways I had participated. I knew then I needed to course-correct.”
In her efforts to make things right, the Kauffman has donated $4 Million to her alma mater, Brandeis University, to help fund the African and African American studies department. This will help bring more resources and support to young academics of color at the university.
Kauffman says she wishes she could have done more during that time, but now she is committed to more diverse storylines in her other shows, like Grace And Frankie. “I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years,” the writer explained. “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.”