One of the most, if not the most, iconic shows in television history, Friends, co-created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, boasted a total of 52.9 million viewers at its peak, winning Primetime Emmy Awards(2002) in Outstanding Comedy Series. It followed the journey of 6 young Americans in New York City, with all the goofs and troubles.
The show also exhibited a host of stars including Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, George Clooney, Winona Ryder, and many more as guest appearances. Danny Devito was even nominated for an Emmy for the guest appearance.
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It remains one of the most-watched shows since 2004 alongside the Office. Many of the dialogues uttered in the show have become part of the cultural zeitgeist, such as “moo point”, “How you doin’?” and “We were on a break!”
Controversies to haunt the Show
The show was so iconic that it affected the very manner in which we live our lives, showing controversial topics on the screen such as gay marriage, a relationship with a trans person, and racism.
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Even though it touched on many important topics of the time, it still had an all-white cast, with only instances of people of color making guest appearances. Also, although it did have a gay marriage in its second season, the show was notorious for having many homophobic jokes.
Marta Kauffman pledges to donate
Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman spoke in an interview with the Los Angeles Times on the criticism the show has received with regard to the lack of diversity. She stated:
“I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years…. 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.”
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Marta Kauffman observed that she didn’t understand the issue fans had with the lack of diversity before, but following the BlacksLivesMatter protest on the murder of George Flloyd in 2020, she has changed her mind, she said:
“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… that was really the moment that I began to examine the ways I had participated. I knew then I needed to course-correct.”
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In response to all the criticism, Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman has pledged $4 million to the African and African American Studies department of Brandeis University.