Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman has said it was a “mistake” not to use proper pronouns on the hit sitcom and now makes sure she builds “safe” workplaces and “tolerant”.
the American sitcom Friends ran from 1994 to 2004, and follows the eventful lives of six friends living in Manhattan, New York.
In an interview with The Conversation on BBC World Service, Kauffman, 65, who co-created the show with David Crane, spoke about her regret at representing Chandler Bing’s transgender parents.
Kauffman said: “We mentioned her constantly [Chandler’s transgender parent] Chandler’s father, although Chandler’s father is transgender.
“Pronouns are still not something I understand. So we don’t call that character her. That’s a mistake.”
Chandler, played by Matthew Perry, is one of the show’s main characters along with Rachel Green, Monica Geller, Ross Geller, Phoebe Buffay, and Joey Tribbiani.
Kauffman, who is also the creator of Netflix hit Grace And Frankie, says she’s now trying to create diverse and inclusive workspaces.
“I enjoyed creating an environment where we had a fun setting and a fun crew,” she said.
“For me, it is very important to me that where we are is a safe place, a tolerant place, where there is no screaming.
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“I fired a guy immediately for making a joke about a transgender superstar. That can’t happen.”
As for how she deals with criticism of the show, Kauffman told host Kim Chakanetsa: “Friends have been criticized in a number of ways. The biggest thing is that we don’t have enough representation of black people.
“And over the last few years, I’ve gotten to the point where I can say yes, unfortunately I’m at fault for that. And I will never make that mistake again.
“I am clearly part of the systemic racism in our business. I wasn’t aware of it, it made me feel stupid. That’s a very valid criticism, extremely difficult that … I’m still emotional about it. “
She added: “If I had known then what I know now, there are things I would have changed. But I didn’t know them and I learned from that.”
I am clearly part of the systemic racism in our business. I don’t know about it, it makes me feel stupidMarta Kauffman
Kauffman also addressed the use of the sitcom Grace And Frankie to break tabs on aging, saying: “We wanted to talk about sex at a certain age, and aging and feeling lost. Leaving aside.
“But really the show is about… you can start over with your life at any time, you just need a friend to do it with.”
Grace And Frankie stars actors and Kauffman’s best friends Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.
The film is about two women who are always rivals until they have to join forces after they learn that their husbands have fallen in love and want to get married.
The full interview with Marta Kauffman on The Conversation will be broadcast on BBC World Service on 11 July at 11:30am.
https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-news/friends-co-creator-discusses-use-of-pronouns-and-lack-of-diversity-in-sitcom-41815672.html Friends co-creator discusses pronoun use and lack of variety in sitcoms