Friends is an American television sitcom created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman which aired from 1994 to 2004 and lasted ten seasons. With an ensemble cast starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer, the show revolves around six friends in their 20s and 30s living in New York City. 

Friends received critical acclaim throughout its run and became one of the most popular television shows of all time. But the show also faced criticisms due to its lack of diversity. The sitcom featured very little diversity and is commonly criticized for its lack of roles for people of color, despite guest appearances from Lauren Tom, Gabrielle Union, Mark Consuelos, and Craig Robinson. 

In a recent interview with The Conversation on the BBC World Service, co-creator spoke about the lack of Black people and other people of color on the show. She said, “Friends has been criticized in a number of ways. The biggest one being that we did not have enough representation of Black people. 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. 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. That was a very valid, extremely difficult criticism which I still get emotional about. 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.”

Similarly, Friends was also criticized for depicting Chandler Bing's transgender parent, who was called Charles on the show. Portrayed by Kathleen Turner, the character had relationships with men and worked as a drag queen in Las Vegas under the stage name Helena Handbasket. In this day and age where there are reportedly 72 genders, it would be an act of crime to cast a woman or man to play a transgender and refer to them with the wrong pronoun. 

Looking back on this, Kauffman further went on to say that it was a mistake to refer to the transgender mother of Chandler Bing as his 'father'. She told BBC, “Pronouns were not yet something that I understood. So we didn’t refer to that character as ‘she.’ That was a mistake."