Friends co-creator, Marta Kauffman, apologised in an interview about the show’s handling of a transgender character and regretted misgendering Chandler’s parent as a man. 

In “The Conversation” interview with BBC World Service, Kauffman admitted that referring to “her as ‘Chandler’s father’, even though Chandler’s father was trans” was a mistake. 

“We kept referring to her as Chandler’s father, even though Chandler’s father was trans,” said Kauffman. “Pronouns were not yet something that I understood. So we didn’t refer to that character as she. That was a mistake.”

Kauffman created the hit sitcom series which ran from 1994 to 2004,  with David Crane and added that she felt “guilty” for the lack of representation of “Black people” which she believed was “clearly part of systemic racism in our business.” 

These admissions come a week after she pledged $4 million to Brandeis University’s African and African American studies department due to the lack of diverse representation on Friends

Would Not Accept The Role Now, Says Kathleen Turner

Katthleen Turner (centre) in the hit TV show ‘Friends’.

Kathleen Turner, the actress who played Chandler’s transgender mother said that she would not accept the role if she had been asked to take it on in 2019. 

In an interview on Watch What Happens Live, Turner said she would’ve said no because there would be more people able to take on the role.

At the time, one of the co-creators had asked her to play ‘Chandler’s dad’ and she reflected that their approach to asking her was, “Would you like to be the first woman playing a man playing a woman? I said yes, because there weren’t many drag or trans people on television at the time,” she told the Gay Times

“It became a phenomenon, but no one ever took it seriously as a social comment,” Turner added. 

Lack Of Diversity In Friends

The famed series has not gone without controversy. In retrospect, Kauffman told the LA Times that she had learned “a lot in the last 20 years” and that admitting and accepting guilt was not easy .

“It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago.” 

“I’ll never make that mistake again,” Kauffman asserted. “I was clearly part of systemic racism in our business. I was unaware of that, which makes me feel stupid. That was a very valid, extremely difficult criticism which still I get emotional about. If I knew then what I know now, there are certain things I would have changed. But I didn’t know then and I have since learned.”

The interview with the BBC is set to air on July 11. 



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