If you were an alien from outer space (“Oh god,” you’re thinking, “Where is she going with this?”), and the only impression you had of New York City was by watching the TV show Friends, you would think that all New Yorkers were thin twenty-somethings with giant apartments and optional jobs. Also, alien-you would be very surprised to learn that New York had more than three Black people. Because Friends was so, so white. So was Seinfeld. And Frasier. And Mad About You. And Just Shoot Me and Will & Grace.
Sherri Shepherd was one of the few Black people cast on Friends, in a one-episode role as a tour guide at Ross’ museum who befriends Joey. More than twenty years later, her best friend Jawn Murray revealed that Sherri made a joke about #FriendsSoWhite, and they believe that jab is why she wasn’t asked to return.
Jawn says (Via Page Six):
“Sherri was one of the few black faces that was on ‘Friends.’ Her, Aisha Tyler and Gabrielle Union. And Sherri was on ‘Friends’ at a time that you sent out postcards to let people know, ‘Hey, I’m going to be on TV,’ ” Murray recalled to ABC News’ Linsey Davis.
Apparently, Shepherd wrote on her postcard that included a photo of herself: “ ‘Friends’ get a little color.”
Murray added, “Well, [Shepherd] also sent that postcard to [‘Friends’ co-creator] Marta [Kauffman], and she got the postcard and [Shepherd] was never asked back on the show.”
Oh come on, Marta Kauffman, learn to take a joke. Especially when it’s 100% accurate. Truth in comedy, people! Marta didn’t respond to Page Six with her two cents, but this month she admitted that she didn’t do enough re: diversity, saying:
“Now, all I can think about is, what can I do, what can I do differently? How can I run my show in a new way? That’s something I wish I knew when I started show-running.”
Here is Sherri’s scene from her episode, which, weirdly enough, tackles the issue of discrimination (but, like, through the lens of museum workers):
Reminder that Sherri had a recurring role as Tracy Morgan’s wife, Angie, on 30 Rock, a show currently in the news for pulling their blackface episodes. To the best of my recollection, I don’t recall any of the Friends doing blackface. So ten points to Friends, I guess.