The iconic NBC sitcom Friends was about six 20-somethings living in New York, following their love lives, friendships and careers. But its taken heat over the years for its lack of diversity, with an all-white lead cast and precious few people of color in secondary roles. Now David Schwimmer — who played Ross Geller — thinks it’s time to fix that by doing an all-black Friends reboot. The internet is now reminding him that there already was a show about six black 20-somethings living in a Brooklyn Brownstone, the mid-90’s Fox sitcom Living Single.
In an interview with the U.K.’s Guardian, David, 53, reflected on Friends as “groundbreaking.” “I feel that a lot of the problem today in so many areas is that so little is taken in context. You have to look at it from the point of view of what the show was trying to do at the time,” he explained. “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.” Then he made a proposal that is now causing him to be mocked. “Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends,” he continued.
The Twittersphere erupted with reminders to David that Living Single, an “all-black Friends” hit the air in 1993, a year before Friends debuted. @theblcklst founder Franklin Leonard wrote, “Friends was an all-white reboot of Living Single.” Media analyst Mark Dice didn’t mince words, tweeting, “Stop the virtue signaling! Your show was an all-white reboot of Living Single – you d**che bag.” Former CNN commentator Roland Martin wrote, “Can someone explain to David Schwimmer that Friends WAS an all-white reboot of the all-Black Living Single?” When word of David’s comment was released, it caused Living Single to become the number two trending Twitter topic.
David Schwimmer clearly doesn’t know that the “all-black” reboot of Friends that he wants was already done and was called Living Single…which btw inspired Friends pic.twitter.com/uDQz2oxqID
— Joshua Chenault (@joshuachenault1) January 28, 2020
Even one of Living Single‘s stars, Erika Alexander 50, took David to task:
Hey @DavidSchwimmer @FriendsTV – r u seriously telling me you’ve never heard of #LivingSingle? We invented the template! Yr welcome bro. ;) David Schwimmer 2 The Guardian: “Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends” https://t.co/r8W1ZHBwoy
— Erika Alexander (@EAlexTheGreat) January 28, 2020
Several people posted clips of Living Single star Queen Latifah, 49, during an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden. She recalled how then-NBC president Warren Littlefield was asked in 1993 if he could have any new show on another network, what would it be? And he said Living Single. A year later, Friends made its’s debut on NBC. She graciously called Friends, an “amazing show and they did a great job with it. If you’re going to rock it, that’s the way to do it.”