It’s been largely debated that Friends was inspired by the hit FOX television series, Living Single. Both shows depicted the friendship dynamics of groups in New York City white targeting two different demographics: Friends had a white cast while Living Single’s cast was Black. Living Single was canceled after just five seasons and many of its cast felt they weren’t given the proper ending. Both shows were filmed on the same lot and Living Single cast have spoken out over the years with their feelings that they were not given the same treatment as the cast of Friends.
The disparities between the two shows made headlines this year after David Schwimmer made comments suggesting that an all-Black show inspired by Friends would be a great reboot idea. Living Single star T.C. Carson did not appreciate Schwimmer’s remarks, but he also was not surprised.
A recap of David Schwimmer’s comments
When speaking to the Guardian, Schwimmer was asked about the possibility of a Friends reboot for modern audiences. Schwimmer took the chance to tackle what he considered to be a lack of diversity included in the show during its time.
“Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends,” Schwimmer replied, “I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color. One of the first girlfriends I had on the show was an Asian American woman, and later I dated African American women. That was a very conscious push on my part.”
When Living Single star Erika Alexander got word of Schwimmer’s comments, she took the opportunity to remind him that Living Single was the template for Friends. Living Single premiered 13 months ahead of Friends.
“We invented the template! Yr welcome bro,” Alexander tweeted, with a winky faced emoji.
Schwimmer apologized for his statements, saying he did not intend to imply that Living Single wasn’t first not that it ever existed. He also insisted that his comments were taken out of context and the full scope of the story was omitted from his interview with the Guardian.
T.C. Carson says black entertainers are undervalued – despite being the model ‘Friends’ followed
When speaking with YouTube’s Comedy Hype, the host proceeded to tell Carson that most people know that Living Single was the original formula for shows centering around friendships. “Well David Schwimmer didn’t know,” Carson joked. Carson paused to gather his thoughts before delving into how he felt about Schwimmer’s statements.
First, he explained that he was proud of the conversation that took place on social media, with longtime fans reminding Schwimmer that Living Single was first. “We did this, we’ve been here,” he said. He then praised Alexander for interjecting herself into the conversation in the immediate aftermath of Schwimmer’s interview before giving his thoughts on the ordeal.
“We’re working in a business that is built on our backs, but doesn’t respect the person necessarily that it’s built upon,” he said. “There would be no FOX without all the Black shows they had on before that they let go…there would be no FOX. There would be no CW. When you point fingers, there are three fingers point back at yourself – so yes that is what it is but what are we doing, how are we moving the needle?”
Carson previously explained that a huge complaint from Living Single cast to the network was that all resources were given to solidify Friends. Despite the hiccups, Carson says there’s been advancement and Black entertainers are not only provided more opportunities but they are creating them as well.
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