Friends television show
Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
April 25, 2024 ·  3 min read

Actress Quinta Brunson Calls Out Friends for Having ‘No Black Characters’

In recent times, diversity has become a focal point across various aspects of society. This includes discussions surrounding its representation in popular culture, such as television shows. One such show under scrutiny is the iconic 90s sitcom, Friends. Quinta Brunson came to the table, playfully weighing in on the show.

Quinta Brunson’s Critique

LOS ANGELES - OCT 17: Quinta Brunson arrives for ELLE Women in Hollywood on October 17, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA
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Renowned for her role in Abbott Elementary, Quinta Brunson recently criticized Friends for its lack of diversity. She comedically brought attention to this during her hosting of Saturday Night Live, highlighting the absence of Black characters in the show’s ensemble.

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A Contrasting Narrative: Abbott Elementary

LOS ANGELES - MAR 04: Quinta Brunson arrives for the Independent Spirit Awards on March 04, 2023 in Santa Monica, CA
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Brunson contrasted Friends with Abbott Elementary, a show centered around teachers navigating a predominantly Black elementary school in Philadelphia. The stark difference in diversity between the two shows was unmistakable.

Brunson’s Commentary

LOS ANGELES - MAR 04: Quinta Brunson arrives for the Independent Spirit Awards on March 04, 2023 in Santa Monica, CA
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During her monologue, Quinta Brunson humorously remarked on her journey to hosting SNL and emphasized the effortless inclusivity of Abbott Elementary compared to Friends. Her remarks resonated with the audience, shedding light on the importance of representation in media.

Acknowledging Fault: Martha Kauffman’s Response

Martha Kauffman attends The Paley Center for Media's 2019 PaleyFest LA Netflix's "Grace and Frankie" at DOLBY Theatre, Los Angeles, CA on March 16th, 2019
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Martha Kauffman, one of the creators of Friends, publicly acknowledged the show’s lack of diversity. She expressed regret over this oversight and pledged support to African and African-American studies departments in universities, recognizing her own journey towards understanding systemic racism.

Continued Discussion

Burbank / USA - July 2017 , "Central Perk" cafe set in Warner Bros studios
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The conversation surrounding diversity in television remains ongoing, with both critique and acknowledgment of past shortcomings. While Friends serves as a notable example, efforts towards inclusivity continue to shape the landscape of modern television.

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Wider Critique

Friends choosing a movie to watch together at home, video on demand concept
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The scrutiny of diversity in popular culture extends beyond Friends to encompass a range of beloved shows and movies. Millennials, in particular, have been vocal about addressing problematic elements in their favorite entertainment.

Grease: Challenging Gender Stereotypes

THE NETHERLANDS - JANUARY 28, 2020: LP record of the original motion picture Sound Track from the 1978 Film: Grease in a second hand store
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The classic musical Grease, celebrated for its catchy tunes and nostalgic charm, has faced criticism for its reinforcement of traditional gender roles. Millennials have pointed out the problematic portrayal of women, with the character of Sandy transforming to fit the mold of a “bad girl” to win the affections of Danny.

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Ace Ventura: Transphobia in Comedy

TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 29, 2014: A stamp printed in Canada shows James Eugene Jim Carrey (born 1962), actor, series Great Canadian Comedians
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Jim Carrey’s comedic masterpiece, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, has come under fire for its portrayal of transgender individuals. The film’s climax involves a revelation that the villain is transgender, leading to a scene where the protagonist reacts in disgust. Millennials have condemned this portrayal as perpetuating harmful stereotypes and transphobia.

Seinfeld: Lack of Diversity

22FEB97: Seinfeld stars JASON ALEXANDER (left), JERRY SEINFELD, JULIA LOUIS DREYFUS & MICHAEL RICHARDS with their Screen Actors Guild Awards for Comedy TV Series Ensemble.
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Despite its status as a cultural phenomenon, the sitcom Seinfeld has faced criticism for its lack of diversity among its main cast. Set in New York City, a melting pot of cultures, the show predominantly features white characters, prompting discussions about the whitewashing of urban life and the exclusion of minority perspectives.

Continued Dialogue and Accountability

Faceless person switching channels on TV
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The call-outs of shows like Grease, Ace Ventura, and Seinfeld underscore the importance of holding beloved media accountable for their portrayals of diversity and inclusion. Millennials, as a generation known for their social consciousness, continue to challenge the status quo and push for more authentic and representative storytelling in entertainment.

In Conclusion

People Looking at Laptop Computer
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As discussions around diversity in media evolve, it’s clear that no piece of pop culture is immune to critique. By addressing the shortcomings of iconic shows and movies, millennials are driving forward a necessary conversation about representation and inclusion in the entertainment industry.

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  1. Quinta Brunson playfully calls out Friends for having no Black characters in SNL monologueThe Independent
  2. Millennials Are Complaining That ‘Seinfeld’ Is ‘Super Offensive‘” Bro Bible. Paul Sacca. January 4, 2019.
  3. 10 Classic Sitcoms Millennials Now Claim To Be Offensive & Un-FunnyFandom Wire. December 12, 2021.
  4. Friends: 10 times the classic sitcom was problematicIndependent.Ilana Kaplan. May 13, 2021.
  5. Who Is Quinta Brunson’s Husband? All About Kevin Jay AnikPeople. Kelsie Gibson. February 2024.