What Not To Say To 'Friends' Creator Marta Kauffman

by Laura Hertzfeld

The anonymous Tumblr “Sh*t People Say To Women Directors” has gotten a lot of buzz across the industry over the past few weeks, featuring quotes from women at all levels in Hollywood, telling a pretty grim tale of what it’s like inside the studio system. The stories range from contributors sharing stories of fielding inappropriate comments like being asked to dress in a more revealing way, to times when they were given direct commentary on their lifestyles -- like being praised for not having a family so they’re free to travel for work. Some of the contributions even focus on times they were asked to actually edit their work, having to rewrite roles to be played by male actors instead of women. But perhaps a sea change is coming. 

Friends creator Marta Kauffman's new show Grace and Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, arrived on Netflix last week and the veteran showrunner says that she is hoping to foster a sense of opportunity in her writers' room. "Hopefully there are young writers in my room who will one day run shows of their own and realize there's another way to do it," she told Larry King this week.

While she's created a unique atmosphere for her team, Friends creator Kauffman says she has certainly not been immune from dealing with sexism over the course of her career, as evidenced by a comment she received a long time ago while giving notes on an episode of Friends:

But Kauffman was quick to point out that now that she’s in charge, there is zero tolerance for sexism on the set of any project she works on: “Not on my show. None of that on my show.”

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