T.C. Carson Says He Was Fired From ‘Living Single’ For Speaking Up To Production
Living Single was one of the first of its kind to document successful friendships and careers of young African Americans. The show aired for five seasons on FOX and one of the viewers most beloved characters was played by actor T.C. Carson.
Carson disappeared after season four, only returning for the finale episode in the last season. He recently opened up about what led to his firing in a new YouTube series interview – and explained how speaking up against a rival show cost him his job.
T.C. Carson on ‘Living Single’ was beloved by viewers
Carson played the role of s suave New York City investment banker named Kyle Barker, who embodied a renaissance man persona. Outside of Wall Street, Barker was a singer and musician, well-read and well-traveled. Carson explained on Comedy Hype that he was intentional about how he transformed into his character.
“Kyle is a combination of a few friends of mine and my dad. A doctor friend of mine, a lawyer friend of mine, a social worker friend of mine, and my father…I pulled from all of those people to create who he was. I thought it was very important for us to see a young black man that was successful in his business, that was very connected to his heritage and his culture, that treated women a certain way, and that treated his friends and his family a certain way – and I hope that came off through that character.”Comedy Hype
Barker was a primary character on the show for the first three seasons and much of his storyline centered on his love-hate relationship with Maxine Shaw. The two eventually dated but failed to make it work due to their strong personalities.
But, the dynamics between the two was a fan favorite and some of the greatest comedy scenes throughout the show featured Shaw and Barker. By season four, Carson’s involvement on the show fizzled.
T.C. Carson says ‘Living Single’ writers tried to portray stereotypical characters
Carson explained that there were creative differences between the writers and the cast, specifically in terms of Carson’s interactions with his best friend and roommate Overton Jones. According to Carson, the writers wanted the two characters to behave in a stereotypical fashion – with Barker as the smart friend and Jones as a jive character. They both refused.
“We went to them and said, ‘Look, we know what you’re trying to do but you cannot put two buffoonish men against four strong women,’” he said. “Two buffoonish black men against four strong black women. You have to think about it differently.”
Carson says the writers listened to their complaints and made adjustments but it took some time because the cast was unwilling to speak up at first out of fear that there would be reproductions.
After watching episodes back that made him cringe, he made the decision to take a stand. Ultimately he does not regret speaking out because it sparked change in the show’s narrative.
T.C. Carson says he was fired from ‘Living Single’ for being viewed as having too much influence
Carson explained that though his suggestions were taken into account by writers, issues on the show persisted. As a cast, he says they’d often meet to voice their concerns about the show but in the end, he acted as the spokesperson for the group. Carson says that he was called into a meeting to discuss the cast complaints.
“The last season before I left, they called me in and they basically said well, ‘All these problems that we’ve been having, they [the cast] listen to you, you’re the person they listen to,’” he explained. “‘So if you said something else, then they would do that.”
Carson says that he was confused, especially because everyone on the cast was of age and capable of making up their own decisions about what they wanted. He also felt singled out because to him, their decisions were collective and not based on his own ideas. When he rebuffed in the meeting, he says those in charge did felt he was speaking out of term.
Creative differences weren’t the only problems the cast allegedly complained about, there were also complaints of budgets, marketing, and the way he says the cast were treated in comparison to others on the network. Once the show Friends was created, the network poured all resources into the new show. Carson mentioned how he felt about such to production.
Ultimately, he was never actually informed that he was fired during the meeting. Instead, he says after watching an episode that featured his character taking a job in London, he received a call from his lawyer that his contract for season five was not renewed. Carson says the way in which he was fired, coupled with the network treating them second hand in comparison to Friends was cowardly.
Despite the way things opened, Carson is open to be part of a potential reboot of the show.