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'Friends' Creator Marta Kauffman Shares Regret Over Misgendering A Trans Character On The Show

·2-min read
Photo credit: JC Olivera / Stringer - Getty Images
Photo credit: JC Olivera / Stringer - Getty Images

Friends boss Marta Kauffman has expressed regret over the misgendering of a transgender character on the sitcom.

Executive producer Marta Kauffman said she believed the representation of Chandler Bing's transgender parent was a 'mistake' in a recent interview with The Conversation on the BBC World Service.

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

Photo credit: JC Olivera / Stringer - Getty Images
Photo credit: JC Olivera / Stringer - Getty Images

Kauffman also added that it is important to her to build a diverse and inclusive workplace, saying: 'I like very much to create an environment where we have a happy set and a happy crew.

'It's very important to me that where we are is a safe place, a tolerant place, where there's no yelling. I fired a guy on the spot for making a joke about a trans cameraperson. That just can't happen.'

Kauffman has faced criticism for the lack of diversity in Friends and says she has learnt from past mistakes and agreed that Black people were under-represented on the show.

Photo credit: NBC - Getty Images
Photo credit: NBC - Getty Images

'Friends has been criticised in a number of ways. The biggest one being that we did not have enough representation of Black people,' she said.

'And over the course of the last few years I've gotten to the point where I can say unfortunately yes, I am guilty of that. And I'll never make that mistake again. I was clearly part of systemic racism in our business. I was unaware of that, which makes me feel stupid.

Photo credit: HBO
Photo credit: HBO

'That was a very valid, extremely difficult criticism which still… I get emotional about,' she continued.

'If I knew then what I know now, there are certain things I would have changed. But I didn't know them and I have since learned.'

Kathleen Turner, who played Chandler's transgender parent on the sitcom, also previously addressed criticism of the show, admitting: 'I don't think it's aged well. It was a 30-minute sitcom. It became a phenomenon, but no one ever took it seriously as a social comment.'

You can hear Marta Kauffman discussing friendships, race and sexism with presenter Kim Chakanetsa and Ghanaian director Nicole Amarteifio on The Conversation on the BBC World Service on Monday July 11 at 1130-1200 BST.

Friends streams on Netflix in the UK, where it also airs daily on Comedy Central. In the US, you can stream the show on HBO Max.

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