Too little, too late?
Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman recently apologized for the lack of diversity on the long-running sitcom, explaining at the virtual 2020 ATX TV Festival, "I wish I knew then what I know today...We've always encouraged people of diversity in our company, but I didn't do enough." However, as E! hosts Morgan Stewart, Nina Parker and Scott Tweedie discussed on the latest Daily Pop, the acknowledgment seems to be, as Stewart put it, "a little too late."
Parker was in agreement with Stewart, saying, "I mean, Marta, welcome to the rest of the world, child. Like, what is she even talking about?"
She continued, "I'm sorry, you guys. But like, people have been talking about this since Friends' inception. The fact that, okay, sure, all white people hanging out together in New York? That happens. But everybody in the street is white?"
Parker asked Tweedie, who lives in New York, if the city looks "the way Friends depicted it," to which he replied, "It is definitely not like that."
Parker went on to express her frustration, especially since she said Kauffman has "been in this industry" for awhile now.
"Like, of course this has been something that should've been discussed," she noted. "And in fact, especially in black communities, there were people who specifically boycotted Friends and Seinfeld because they felt like they weren't represented on these mainstream shows that were based in cities where it's prominently people of color."
Parker continued, "So, you know, I'm glad people are coming to the party but damnit, I hope you brought me a bottle of wine because it's so late."
Stewart echoed Parker's sentiment, adding that these conversations about representation in general "have been happening for years and years and years."
"And everybody now is just like, 'Oh my god,'" Stewart said. "And myself included! I don't want to pretend I'm not a part of that narrative as well. But it really is, like, the party has been going on."
Tweedie pointed out that the entire situation "is a perfect example of the white privilege lifestyle."
"Because I was watching it when I grew up. I thought it was hilarious. I thought it was a brilliant show," he explained. "And never did I ever think, 'What if there's a black child out there watching this show and going, 'What sort of world is this?'"
Parker, however, said "that's specifically how I felt watching TV in general growing up," and "the fact that you guys didn't notice, and it was the first thing I noticed" is something that needs to be a part of the ongoing conversation about race and representation.
"Not only in TV, but let's talk about in work spaces. Let's talk about in social spaces—you know, in going to a restaurant or a bar in Los Angeles," Parker expressed. "There's diversity, but sometimes you walk into a place and you like, 'Nobody else in here looks like me.' And I think those are conversations that we have to have with each other, about how hard it is to feel like you're a part of a community that does not recognize you."
Watch the complete Daily Pop discussion in the above clip.