David Schwimmer says his words may have been taken “out of context” when he discussed diversity and Friends in a recent interview. After he talked about being “very aware of my privilege as a heterosexual white male,” the actor, 53, told The Guardian that he doesn’t believe any of the original Friends cast has the desire to reprise their old characters. Instead, he suggested that “maybe there should be an all-black ‘Friends’ or an all-Asian ‘Friends.’” — Something Erika Alexander said was already created, being her ’90s sitcom, Living Single, which came out one year before Friends. As for David’s response?
“Hi Erika. As you know, I was asked recently in an interview for ‘The Guardian’ how I felt (for the thousandth time) about a reboot of ‘Friends’ immediately following a conversation about diversity on the show, and so offered up other possibilities for a reimagining of the show today,” David, who played Ross Geller in Friends, began in a lengthy response to Erika’s tweet on January 29. “I didn’t mean to imply ‘Living Single’ hadn’t existed or indeed hadn’t come before ‘Friends,’ which I knew it had,” he explained.
“Please remember in an interview quotes are often pieced together and taken out of context, and then these quotes are repurposed in other articles by other people who are trying to be provocative,” he reminded Erika, nothing that, “I was a fan of ‘Living Single,’ and was not implying ‘Friends’ was the first of its kind.” David went on to admit that if his quotes were taken out of context, “it’s hardly in my control.”
— schwim (@DavidSchwimmer) January 29, 2020
Following the release of David’s interview with The Guardian, Erika tweeted at him, including the official Friends Twitter account and said, “R u seriously telling me you’ve never heard of #LivingSingle? We invented the template! Yr welcome bro.”
In David’s response, he also explained that while it’s possible Friends was inspired by Living Single, that is something he doesn’t know.
“To my knowledge, ‘Friends’ (which came out a year later) was inspired by Marta and David’s own lives and circle of friends living in NY in their twenties. If it was based on ‘Living Single’ you’d have to ask them,” he admitted. “It’s entirely possible that Warner Brothers and NBC, encouraged by the success of ‘Living Single,’ gave the ‘Friends’ pilot a green light. I honestly don’t know, but seems likely! If that’s the case, we are all indebted to ‘Living Single’ for paving the way.” David concluded, “I assure you I meant no disrespect.
Following Erika’s response to David’s comments, in a separate tweet she called on the Living Single cast, tagging each person, to help her “school” David. And, one of them did.
Kim Coles, who played Synclaire James-Jones on the hit ’90s sitcom, called the actor “naive” on Twitter for suggesting that an “all-black” or “all-Asian” reboot of Friends would make up for the show’s lack of diversity.
Living Single, made up of Synclaire (Kim) Khadijah (Queen Latifah), Maxine (Erika Alexander), Obie (John Henton), Regine (Kim Fields), and Kyle (Terrence Carson), followed six young, black professionals navigating their lives in Brooklyn while living in a brownstone. The show aired from 1993 to 1998.
One year later, Friends came about in 1994. The NBC sitcom, which was about six 20-somethings living in New York City, was an instant hit. The show’s final new episode aired in 2004, with reruns airing to this day.