“Friends” Co-Creator Marta Kauffman to Donate $4 Million to African and African American Studies Project at Brandeis University Due to ‘Guilt’ and ‘Embarrassment’ Over Show’s Lack of Diversity

Marta Kauffman (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

The co-creator of the TV sitcom Friends is planning to donate $4m to an African and African American studies project because she’s so “embarrassed” by – and feels such “guilt” at – the white homogeneity of the characters on the classic coming of age series.

Marta Kauffman told the Los Angeles Times that she intends for her planned gift to fund the Marta F Kauffman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies at her alma mater, Brandeis University, a liberal arts college in Massachusetts.

Kauffman said it was initially “difficult and frustrating” to see Friends criticized for its lack of diverse characters in a show that ran for 10 seasons after it premiered in 1994, according to the Times. The show earned tens of millions of dollars in syndication and streaming for its creators and cast, including Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.

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After Netflix announced it would drop the sitcom in 2019, Saul Austerlitz, who wrote Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era, said Friends occupied a central place in American pop culture.

“Yes, it’s a sitcom, but it’s also a soap opera,” Austerlitz told the Times. “So you can watch it in order, or you can watch your favorite episodes.”

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Edward Helmore

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