Imagine spending 10 years playing a character on a lily-white show that was a direct and complete appropriation of a black show already in production for a year when yours started, then pretending to know nothing about that show’s existence.
In what can only be described as a case of either lying his white ass off or simply being blinded by white privilege, actor David Schwimmer told the Guardian in a recent interview that he believes there should be “an all-black Friends.”
What a great idea, David! Maybe they could call it Living Single, and instead of having three guys and three gals living in the same Manhattan apartment building, it could be three gals and two guys in a Brooklyn brownstone frequently visited by their fourth gal pal who is a spicy lawyer who is quick with the quips.
It has long been held that Friends was a direct rip-off of Living Single, the Fox network sitcom created and produced by Yvette Lee Bowser and starring Queen Latifah, Kim Coles, Kim Fields, Erika Alexander, T.C. Carson and John Henton.
Living Single premiered in 1993 and was nominated for six NAACP Image Awards and two Primetime Emmy Awards during its run. Latifah, Coles and Fields played Khadijah James, Synclaire James-Jones—Khadijah’s dingy-but-sweet, loveable and naive cousin, and Regina “Regine” Hunter—Khadijah’s childhood friend from Jersey, respectively. The three shared an apartment in a Brooklyn brownstone and were neighbors to Kyle, played by Carson, and Overton, played by Henton. Maxine, their successful attorney friend played by Alexander, was a frequent visitor to the brownstone and an eventual love interest for Kyle.
In the pasty reboot I never bothered to watch until it landed on Netflix because I truly believed it was just some white people shit (and it was; I never finished the whole series because gawd, white people are insufferable), Friends kept the same concept of six friends but made it three guys and three gals. Schwimmer was one of the guys, Ross Geller.
Not to mention both shows were produced by Warner Bros., so it’s hard to believe Schwimmer would have been completely unaware of the existence of Living Single, but hey, a lot of times when you are white, you don’t have to think about black people or their art or labor that you may play a part in siphoning off of, so who knows? It doesn’t matter anyway, because Twitter was here to remind him.
After rightfully being dragged on Twitter for his comments, he was then tapped on the shoulder by none other than Erika Alexander herself, who took to Twitter to remind him that Living Single walked so Friends could run through a Manhattan so white, you would think no other people lived there.
Alexander has previously discussed on The Breakfast Club the many ways in which Friends was a white reboot of Living Single, not the least of which is the fact that Friends was the working title for Living Single while it was in development.
“The original name for Living Single was My Girls, but it didn’t test well so they came up with some other names,” she told The Breakfast Club. “Living Single and Friends were some of the names presented. Obviously, they chose one and the other went to another show, also produced by Warner Bros.”
Schwimmer has not tweeted from his personal account since November 2019, so we are unaware whether or not he has a response for his white ass error, but we will keep you posted.