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Friends Producer Says He 'Has No Regrets' About All-White Cast

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Friends Producer Says He 'Has No Regrets' About All-White Cast

One of the executive producers of Friends has said that he 'didn't have any regrets' about hiring an all-white cast for the massively popular sitcom.

In the wake of the hotly-anticipated reunion, long-standing criticism about the lack of diversity on the show has resurfaced once again, and two of the big names behind the show have separately offered their opinions.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Marta Kaufmann and Kevin Bright spoke about the decision to choose exclusively white CIS characters.

Employing an 'all-white, heteronormative' cast was not a decision that was taken consciously, but something that they chose to do because of the obvious chemistry between the six actors, according to executive producer and director Bright.

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Friends Reunited. Credit: HBO
Friends Reunited. Credit: HBO

He said: "For the parts of Chandler and Phoebe, we saw everybody and we picked what we thought with the two best actors,

"There are different priorities today and so much has changed.

"It's important for today's shows to be reflective of the ways society truly is,

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"But for our experience, the three of us, that may have been our experience when we were young and in New York.

"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 went on to say that 'other than hindsight' he didn't have any other regrets, and would have been 'insane' not to have hired the six actors that they eventually did.

Of course, history has probably proven him right on that front, but - still - could the show have done more to be more inclusive, and would it still have been as popular?

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The Friends cast back in the day. Credit: NBC
The Friends cast back in the day. Credit: NBC

He added: "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."

He's right about that, too. Marta Kaufmann did have another take on the matter.

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She said that there were 'probably a hundred things' she'd change given the opportunity.

Kaufmann said: "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.

"There are many things that I could say if I only knew then what I know now. 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."

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One thing they were both clear on, however, was that the show would be drastically changed if made in this day and age.

Bright said: "We would be so aware. It would be integral to the chemistry and the conversation that these guys would be having,

"Do they get together as much as they do on the show, or is this more of a social media back and forth?

"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. If we did Friends today, no, I don't imagine they would probably end up being an all-white cast."

The Friends producers said their all-white casting decision was not conscious. Credit: HBO
The Friends producers said their all-white casting decision was not conscious. Credit: HBO

Kaufmann added: "You couldn't write that pilot today. You couldn't do it. They'd all be sitting on their phones."

Bright also pointed out that there was a same-sex wedding in series two, which - in the mid-90s - represented a large platform for diversity.

He said: "When the show gets hammered about a lack of diversity, I like that episode also to be remembered as doing something that nobody else had done before.

"I would have figured that NBC would have been so pressured by the middle of the country that they would have shut it down - and they didn't."

Featured Image Credit: NBC

Topics: TV and Film, Celebrity, US Entertainment, Friends

Tom Wood
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