David Schwimmer’s Comments About All-Black ‘Friends’ Reboot Sparks ‘Living Single’ Discussion

Friends actor David Schwimmer is making waves online after an interview he did with The Guardian went viral. His role as Ross Geller on the show turned him into a star, and although Friends ended in 2004, it remains a pop culture favorite with an enduring fan base. Schwimmer’s interview with The Guardian touched on his family, career, and the impact of Friends, but some of his comments about the series have reignited a debate about another show.

David Schwimmer and Aisha Tyler in NBC's 'Friends'
David Schwimmer and Aisha Tyler in ‘Friends’ 2003 | NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Schwimmer’s words about diversity on ‘Friends’ caused some blowback

While speaking about the era that spawned Friends, he said the series’ had shortcomings in terms of diversity. Schwimmer got candid about race, equality, and religion. Specifically, this comment from him stuck out:

“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 colour. 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.”

Schwimmer expounded by talking about his awareness of white male privilege and how he was raised to be conscious when it came to feminism and social justice causes.

A social media chat was sparked about ‘Friends’ and ‘Living Single’

After the article went viral, some social media users pointed out that another sitcom was actually an “all-black Friends,” and that show was Living Single, which ran from 1993 to 1998. The series centered on a group of friends—male and female—living in Brooklyn as roommates in an apartment building.

Living Single starred Queen Latifah as Khadijah, Kim Fields as Regine, Kim Coles as Synclaire, Erika Alexander as Maxine, John Henton as Overton, and T.C. Carson and Kyle, who are all African-Americans.

The sitcom was cancelled on Fox after five seasons, but the formula of six professional singletons living in the big city while navigating friendships, love, and their careers hooked in viewers. Online, commenters called out Schwimmer to point out that Living Single came before Friends, and many fans deemed the latter as a copycat show that gets all the attention.

Cast members of ‘Living Single’ spoke out

The comparisons between Living Single and Friends are nothing new, and over the years, the cast of Living Single has spoken about the similarities and being the impetus. Alexander, who played Maxine Shaw in the series, sent out a tweet to Schwimmer about the existence of the Living Single as the template.

Last year, Henton spoke to Comedy Hype about how Living Single is not recognized for being the originator of concept, and how crushed he was about the show getting cancelled. He feels like Friends was a brilliant series, but Living Single didn’t achieve the same level of success even though it came first.

Schwimmer responded to Alexander

Schwimmer took a moment to acknowledge Alexander and Living Single, stating that he was aware of the series and his interview comments were not meant to be disrespectful. He said that to his knowledge, the creators of Friends based the show on parts of their own lives, but it was possible that NBC gave the go-ahead for it based on the success of Living Single.

He added that interview quotes are often taken out of context.

As it stands, there have been discussions about reboots for both shows, but the cast members of each are either all-in or not at all. If you’re not familiar with either series, you can stream both Friends and Living Single through multiple platforms.