Earlier this year, Friends star David Schwimmer made a statement that ruffled a few feathers. During an interview Schwimmer did with The Guardian, his comment that there should be a Black version of Friends had Living Single fans lighting up social media. Here’s what former Living Single star Kim Coles shared with Showbiz Cheat Sheet regarding Schwimmer’s comment.
David Schwimmer on diversity in ‘Friends’
Schwimmer admits Friends was lacking when it came to diversity. The series had few people of color on the show. Consequently, the series received a lot of attention in 2003 when Aisha Tyler guest starred as Dr. Charlie Wheeler, a paleontology professor. She remained on the show for nine episodes.
Some fans were unhappy with Gabrielle Union’s 2001 episode, where the phrase “monkey lover” was used during her scene (season 7, episode 17). Friends Season 9, Episode 22 also upset some fans because there was an image of a monkey next to Tyler’s face in one of her scenes. (This language and imagery is offensive because some racists have referred to African Americans as monkeys throughout history.) It’s unclear, however, if the monkey references in these Friends episodes were intentional.
David Schwimmer’s interview with ‘The Guardian’
Schwimmer drew a lot of attention when he said there should have been an all-Black or all-Asian version of Friends. What he didn’t seem aware of in that moment was that there was a Black counterpart to Friends called Living Single. The show first aired one year before Friends. Here’s what Schwimmer said in his interview with The Guardian:
“Maybe there should be an all-Black Friends or an all-Asian Friends,” said Schwimmer. “But I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color. 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.”
What ‘Living Single’ star Kim Coles had to say about David Schwimmer’s comments
During an interview with Kim Coles, Showbiz Cheat Sheet asked the actor for her thoughts on Schwimmer’s controversial statement. Here’s what the former Living Single star told us:
I just think it’s interesting that [David Schwimmer] had the convenience of living in a bubble. He had this bubble, and the bubble was the success of his show. I feel bad that he was so ill-informed. People came for him hard. It just shows you what happens when people live in a bubble and they don’t stretch themselves to look around.
We were shooting [Living Single] at the same time [as Friends]. We were also a Warner Brothers show. I guess they were just blissfully unaware of their success that came out of the success of our show. And I don’t think there could have been a Friends if there wasn’t a Living Single first.
Living Single, which also starred Queen Latifah and Kim Fields, aired first, from 1993 to 1998. Friends followed closely behind, airing from 1994 until its final episode in 2004.
A ‘Friends’ and ‘Living Single’ crossover?
Coles told Showbiz Cheat Sheet she feels Schwimmer missed out on what could have been an interesting collaboration between the two shows. For her, television is richest when two different shows crossover and the casts work together. Here’s what Coles said about the missed opportunity of a crossover between Friends and Living Single:
It’s a shame; and he missed out. I think they all missed out on what could have been some really cool collaborations. My favorite times when I’m watching episodes of shows are when they cross-pollinate. When they bring people from one world to another world.
Wouldn’t it have been really interesting if we could have [done a crossover] at the time? We were existing at the same time. Poor baby doesn’t know what he’s missing, but the rest of our fans and family know well and understand well how important that show was for presenting positive Black images.
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