We all knew that Living Single was the prototype, right? Well, apparently some folks didn't get the memo.
In an interview with The Guardian, when talking about new criticisms of Friends as folks revisit the show, star David Schwimmer defended the series. “I don’t care. The truth is also that [the] show was groundbreaking in its time for the way in which it handled so casually sex, protected sex, gay marriage and relationships. The pilot of the show was my character’s wife left him for a woman and there was a gay wedding, of my ex and her wife, that I attended."
He continued, “You have to look at it from the point of view of what the show was trying to do at the time. I’m the first person to say that maybe something was inappropriate or insensitive, but I feel like my barometer was pretty good at that time. I was already really attuned to social issues and issues of equality. Maybe there should be an all-Black Friends or an all-Asian Friends. But I was well aware of the lack of diversity and 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."
After the interview started to make the rounds on social media, Living Single star, Erika Alexander swiftly responded to him via Twitter, pointing to an interview she did with Shadow And Act in 2019.
— Erika Alexander (@EAlexTheGreat) January 28, 2020
Friends, the all-white version of Living Single, premiered in 1994. Despite biting off the concept of Living Single, it reached a different level of acclaim. Alexander told us, "The difference between Friends and Living Single is one of marketing and skin color," Alexander told Shadow And Act. "What does Paul Mooney say? 'They have the complexion for the protection,'" she laughed.
While Friends went on to a ten-season run with each cast member raking in $1 million per episode, Living Single never received the financial success of its successor.
"If you were on a show with a Black cast you weren't seen as a show with a Black cast, which is how I like to see it. They saw you as a Black show. So they would often put you in a cultural ghetto. That would undermine any sort of ambitions that you might have to grow the show beyond its locked-in demographic," she said.
"I'm saying we should have gone beyond that. And I think it was just a lack of imagination and people who left money on the table," Alexander said.
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