It's no secret that the NBC show Friends was essentially the white version of Living Single, which continues to be hailed as a classic. Both shows were set in New York City and chronicled the lives of six friends. The only difference was that the cast of Living Single was Black and the show was heavily diverse, whereas Friends had an all-white cast and often was scrutinized for its lack of inclusion. It's also worth noting Living Single premiered on FOX in 1993, a year earlier than Friends.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Friends exec producer Kevin Bright was blunt regarding the show's legacy for its lack of inclusion, saying he has no regrets for having an all-white cast and noted "the chemistry between these six actors speaks for itself."
"What can I say? I wish Lisa was Black?" he said. "I've loved this cast. I loved the show and I loved the experience. I know Marta has a different feeling about it. I think it affects us all."
On her "different feeling," Kauffman added, "There are probably a hundred things I would have done differently. I’ve talked about it in the past and I do have very strong feelings about my participation in a system, but it comes down to I didn’t know what I didn’t know."
This is just the latest time Friends has been the subject of scrutiny. In an interview with The Guardian last year, Friends actor David Schwimmer addressed the show's lack of diversity. “Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends,” Schwimmer told The Guardian.
Living Single star Erika Alexander, who portrayed attorney Maxine Shaw, hit back at Schwimmer's comments in an essay for Zora called "Why The Friends vs. Living Single Twitter Beef Really Matters."
"You see, David didn't realize that the so-called, all Black Friends had already happened," she wrote. "In fact, I was in it. A sitcom I'm proud of, called Living Single, created by Yvette Lee Bowser. And we happened a year before his show, Friends, was on the air. In fact, Living Single had happened within the same studio, Warner Brothers, in Burbank, on the annexed lot near his called The Warner Ranch."
The renewed interest in Friends is due to its reunion special dropping on HBO Max last month.