David Schwimmer recently addressed the diversity problem in “Friends” and suggested that there should be an all-Black version of the popular sitcom. But Twitter users were quick to remind the actor about “Living Single,” a show that predated “Friends.”
During an interview with The Guardian published Monday, Schwimmer, who played Ross in “Friends,” shared that he would often campaign to have more people of color featured on the show.
“I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color,” he said. “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.”
He also suggested that perhaps an “all-Black ‘Friends’” or “an all-Asian ‘Friends’” should exist, but that statement caused a lot of Twitter users to scratch their heads.
“Friends,” an NBC sitcom that featured an all-white cast of six friends who lived in New York City, has long been accused of ripping off “Living Single,” a Fox sitcom with Black main characters that premiered a year before “Friends” and also centered on six friends living in New York.
“Living Single,” created by Yvette Lee Bowser, first aired in 1993 and followed the lives of Khadijah James (Queen Latifah), Synclaire James-Jones (Kim Coles), Regine Hunter (Kim Fields), Maxine Shaw (Erika Alexander), Overton Jones (John Henton) and Kyle Barker (Terrence “T.C.” Carson).
The group of professionals in their 20s all lived in a Brooklyn brownstone, the primary backdrop of the show. “Living Single,” which was celebrated for portraying diverse Black main characters on TV, ran until 1998.
Throughout the years, fans of “Living Single” have pointed out the similarities between the ’90s sitcom and “Friends,” which featured Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and Lisa Kudrow.
Erika Alexander responded Tuesday to Schwimmer’s Guardian interview by tweeting to the actor that “Living Single” “invented the template!”
“Hey @DavidSchwimmer @FriendsTV - r u seriously telling me you’ve never heard of #LivingSingle?” she wrote, later adding with a smiley face, “Yr welcome bro.”
“Friends” aired until 2004, with its finale attracting more than 52 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched finales ever.
In a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Bowser pointed out that “Friends” received more support in marketing under Warner Bros. Studios.
“It’s disappointing that we have never gotten that kind of push that ‘Friends’ has had,” she said at the time. “I have issues with the studio and the network over the promotion of this show.”
Twitter users chimed in and responded to Schwimmer’s comments about “Friends,” arguing that the NBC sitcom was instead an all-white version of “Living Single”: