Why Terrence C. Carson Left ‘Living Single’

The success of Living Single was unanticipated. At the time, a 27-year-old writer named Yvette Lee Brown, who has written on other shows such as A Different World and Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, was presented with the opportunity to create a show centering around black female characters. She jumped at the chance and with rapper turned actress, Queen Latifah, as the central star of the show, went on to create a cultural phenomenon that would register with audiences almost 30 years later. The show was so good that writers and producers of Friends copied its model. 

Living Single cast
Living Single cast | Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images

For five years, viewers followed the journey of Khadijah James (Queen Latifah), Maxine Shaw (Erika Alexander), Synclaire James (Kim Coles), and Regina “Regine” Hunter. Also featured on the show were the girl’s neighbors and two of their love interests – Kyle Barker (Terrence “T.C.” Carson) and Overton Jones (John Henton). 

Carson was an audience favorite who fans enjoyed for his wit, style, and banter with Maxine. He was noticeably absent from the show after season 4, which caused confusion amongst fans and a weird change of direction for the show.

‘Living Single’ aired for five seasons with Terrence C. Carson as “Kyle Barker”

The cast was pretty much complete when Carson was hired for the role of Kyle Barker – a suave investment banker with an Afrocentric flair, who also sings on occasion. In an interview with the Atlantic in celebration of the show’s 25th anniversary, Carson reflected on how he landed the part, saying.

“I had auditioned for Living Single when I was still living in Chicago and sent an audition tape in, and they had basically said no at first. And then they called me out for a callback, a screen test, and then on, I think, a Tuesday, we went in and I read with Erika that Wednesday, and I think I went to work that Thursday.”

The Atlantic
Source: YouTube

From the start, the chemistry between Carson and Alexander’s characters was instant. They traded jobs as a cover-up for their affinity towards one another and from seasons 2-4, they hilariously embarked on an on-again-off-again love affair. Both actors told The Atlantic that the on-screen love transitioned off-screen as well. Though they didn’t date, they considered themselves soul mates in entrainment. 

“We weren’t play-acting,” said Carson.” We were all invested in the people we were doing, and so we weren’t just saying lines.” 

Source: YouTube

Alexander likened their relationship to the one shared between Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and called Carson her “comedic partner.” 

The focus of the show shifted after Carson’s unexpected departure.

Why did Terrence C. Carson leave ‘Living Single?’

In the second episode of the final season, Carson’s character leaves New York for London for a singing gig. In a touching scene with his longtime friend and roommate Overton, he shares that his break up with Maxine also played a role in his willingness to leave.

Source: YouTube

To the thrill of fans, he returned in the finale episode in an ironic plot twist: Maxine is pregnant with her first child after utilizing a local sperm bank – only to discover that Kyle is the anonymous donor. The episode ends with the insinuation that the two will try and raise their baby together…as a couple.

The final season was only 13 episodes and many fans were disappointed by the feeling they felt it was rushed. The cast later revealed that the network diverted more attention and resources to Friends. 

Source: YouTube

As for Carson’s absence, most fans assumed that he accepted another role elsewhere, but that wasn’t the case. Carson told The Ed Lover Show that he was let go from the show after season 4. When asked why, he replied, “I was a little too Black and too strong.” 

He also noted that as the show progressed, more writers who weren’t of color were hired and the cast had less input on how their characters were portrayed. He told Lover, “When you have people who don’t have respect for our story or who don’t know our culture, [problems arise].”

Despite how the show ended, Carson is open to returning for a potential reboot.