Sherri Shepherd joked about the lack of diversity on ‘Friends,’ wasn’t asked back

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I really like Sherri Shepherd. She’s one of those actors who can get me to watch a show because she’s in it (except The View, no one can get me to watch that). I adored her in Trial & Error, which I loved and no one else saw. Another show I watched regularly and in which Sherri appeared was Friends. At the start of her career, Sherri appeared as a tour guide in Ross’ museum who befriends Joey who is also moonlighting as a tour guide. Although she was great in her role, it was the only episode of Friends Sherri appeared in. According to Sherri’s best friend Jawn Murray, the reason for that could be because Sherri poked fun at the show’s glaring lack of diversity.

Sherri Shepherd once sent the co-creator of “Friends” a tongue-in-cheek card about the show’s lack of diversity, according to the former “The View” host’s best friend, Jawn Murray.

But it allegedly marked her first and last appearance on the show. “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.”

[From Page Six via DListed]

Sherri’s character worked at a museum and that was the only episode in which Joey worked there too. It’s possible they didn’t plan to ask Sherri back, but it’s also possible she struck a chord by pointing out how white the show was and that’s why we only saw her once. Friends definitely had a diversity issue. The cast keeps trying to let themselves off the hook. Just admit the show had a diversity (and LGBTQ and female representation) problem and say you wish it didn’t. At least Marta Kaufman, who received Sherri’s postcard and didn’t respond or hire many more Black people, admitted to that.

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Photo credit: WENN/Avalon

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32 Responses to “Sherri Shepherd joked about the lack of diversity on ‘Friends,’ wasn’t asked back”

  1. Reginald says:

    That show doesn’t need a reunion. A reunion now will lead to massive backlash. Best leave things the way they are it ended and shouldn’t be brought back for obvious lack of diversity

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. What’s the point now, anyway?

    • Elena says:

      But, but the cast need the $$$$. It is their cash cow. They will be in their 70′s, 80′s and still be pushing in another reunion…..

      • Lilah casting says:

        Jennifer Aniston keeps complaining about being tipe cast she keeps getting richer from it, she is is not rejecting the money she should donate it if Rachel green hurts her as a serious actress.

  2. Jess says:

    I remember Jesse Jackson calling out Friends while it was on for its lack of diversity. I thought he had a good point but was still too ignorant for his concern to sink in. And I loved her on Trial & Error. My son and I both loved that show!

  3. Becks1 says:

    I GAVE YOU MY SNACK PACK!!!!!!

    She was great in that episode but I doubt she was going to be asked by regardless, I think Joey only worked at the museum for that one episode, and besides that we rarely saw Ross at the museum, most of his work stories involved the university.

    That doesn’t excuse Friends for the lack of diversity overall though. It didn’t stand out to me at the time but now whenever I watch an episode I cant figure out what Friends was thinking.

    • Deering24 says:

      The “Friends” creators were thinking like Woody Allen—that non-white folks had no place in sophisticated urban comedies. They were casting from a 1930’s “The Philadelphia Story” template—very WASPY, well-off, and monochromatic.

      • Mary says:

        Very white, yes, but not so much WASPy, if I remember correctly. I believe Jennifer Anniston’s character, as well as Ross and Monica, are implicitly meant to be Jewish. Joey is, of course, Italian-American. Only Chandler is explicitly WASPy.

    • holly hobby says:

      She was very memorable in that episode but yeah, not all the stories centered on the museum so I don’t know how she could be back as that character. Maybe as another one would work.

  4. ReginaGeorge says:

    Calling BS on Sherri’s friend’s claim. Her character was a one time thing. It was obvious none of Ross’s coworkers were ever gonna be recurring. The show never really focused on Ross at the museum. The only one who I remotely remember had a recurring role and by that I mean like two episodes was his boss, maybe. Same for Chandler. They never really got into their work lives. I think Rachel was the only one who’s coworkers were recurringly written into the show on a regular basis with the whole “Mark” story line. And Gunther only because of their scenes at Central Perk.

  5. Nev says:

    hahahhahaha

    wack show.

  6. jaylow says:

    Living Single was the same (in my opinion superior) show with a black cast. Nobody is asking them to be more inclusive. maybe the question we should be asking ourselves is why more people did not watch this version of the show.

    • Mumbles says:

      What’s interesting is that in the 70’s and 80’s, when there were three major networks, those networks often showed programs with majority black casts or black protagonists, and they were very successful – Julia, the Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Good Times, Amen, 227, Get Christie Love. (I won’t include Diff’rent Strokes because of the white savior premise, but that show was also huge).

      When additional networks like Fox, UPN, WB came on the scene, the “Big Three” stopped running the shows with minority casts, and those new networks started running them. But because a lot of markets didn’t have those new channels, those shows never got the big audiences a lot of them, like Living Single, deserved.

      • ChillyWilly says:

        So true, Mumbles. And the fact that all those shows you mentioned were successful and made the studios money just proves that the 1990′s trend of all white shows on major networks was because the studio execs were/are a bunch of racist aholes.

      • lucy2 says:

        I watched a lot of those growing up, especially 227 and Amen, a Different World (Lisa Bonet is/was the coolest) and of course the show about the Huxtable family. I never realized that, how the big networks dropped those shows. Awful.

      • Mumbles says:

        So funny, lucy2, I omitted those two shows (maybe cancelling Cosby in my mind – but no excuse for cancelling A Different World, which I loved too!) But the Cosby show was the hugest show for years. And Fresh Prince, Family Matters. I watched all those shows when I was younger and never thought of them as “black” shows, just shows with black characters. Kids would talk about them at school the next day.

      • Deering24 says:

        And once Fox became big because of shows like LS and “In Living Color,” they refused to do more black shows and went full-bore after white audiences.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        hey hey hey, you forgot “What’s Happening!!”

      • Ellen says:

        I grew up in the 80′s and 90′s and remember the shows so fondly. There was a lot more inclusive TV during those times as I remember, and they weren’t black or white shows, they were just shows. 227, Amen, Different World, Cosby Show, Family Matters, Martin, In Living Color. We also watched Cheers, Night Court, Full House, Friends, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Seinfeld and other white-centric shows, but TV didn’t seem so divisive back then. But I am part of the “colorblind” generation, so maybe that’s why I didn’t think of these TV shows as Black or White or anything, I just liked them because I thought there were funny, relatable or entertaining. The way I was taught “colorblind” didn’t mean that we didn’t see skin color or wanted to erase skin color, but that we didn’t weaponize skin color or segregate ourselves simply because of the color of ours – or someone else’s – skin.

      • Original Jenns says:

        These shows continue to be iconic and classic. It really shows the whitening of TV after a certain point. This is a really great conversation to have here!

    • ChillyWilly says:

      Living Single was a way better show. I liked Friends too but Living Single was funnier. Another question is why Friends was picked up by NBC and LS was on a much less watched network (WB or CW? Can’t remember). It’s not ok and it wasn’t ok for Friends to be so white.

  7. lucy2 says:

    I loved Trial & Error so much! Lady driver, coming through! Sherri was great on the show.

    As for Friends, I got the impression it was a one episode role, never meant to be recurring, but it certainly did need more diversity in casting – as most shows of that era did.

    • Original Jenns says:

      LOVED Trial & Error! So clever and funny. 1st season Lithgow was phenomenal as always, Sherri was hilarious. Every single one of her diagnoses was always followed through, and done so well. The lead, Josh, was actually the actor who played Hunter on the Office, so I always assumed he ran from Jan and became an attorney :)

      Can this be a quick podcast topic to encourage more people to find and watch Trial & Error? Kristin Chenowith is second season for those who are fans!

  8. AnnaKist says:

    This is no different from other filthy goings-on in the entertainment business: Keep your mouth shut, or else. This needs to be torn down, just like Weinstein was torn down.

  9. anp says:

    Glad Sherri presented the question to the Friend’s show.

  10. InsertNameHere says:

    She was hilarious in that episode. My husband and I still yell “Peter! I gave you my snack pack, man!” at each other when one of us doesn’t want to do something.

  11. ex-liontamer says:

    The most important thing to remember here is that ‘Trial and Error’ was hilarious and amazingly great.

  12. Penguin says:

    I sincerely doubt that storyline was going to last further than that one episode. The whole point of it was that Joey needed a job immediately, so Ross got him temporary work. I think Sherri as hoping to be asked back as her character was so well received, but wasn’t as that storyline didn’t have anywhere to go.

  13. Keiji says:

    Friends really hurt me when it was on. It further amplified how much I didn’t fit in at my all white school. But I tried to watch it, to fit in. To this day, I still can’t watch it. It hurts too much.

    No-one ever responds to me, or interacts with me on this site. It’s a bunch of white white women virtue signaling about how woke they are. Sorry if that hurts someone’s feelings, but it’s true.

    This is my last post.

    • Vernie says:

      @Keiji, thank you for your thoughtful post. I’m sorry this stupid, overrated show caused you pain and I’m glad you avoid it. I’m even more sorry you feel ignored/disregarded on this site. I think your voice is important. ❤️

    • Happy_fat_mama says:

      Hi Keiji

      Best Wishes to you. Friends sucks. Your post here is a really interesting one that I will learn from.

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