Friends is a rip off of Living Single (and a bunch of other times White People have stolen Black Ideas)

Whitney Alese
5 min readFeb 5, 2020

We all know that Living Single is way better of a show than Friends. Living Single, which first aired in 1993, was wildly successful. Suspiciously, in 1994, Friends aired, and Black People everywhere have wondered what the hell ever since. 1st, it was a very literal copy of Living Single and second, it was very suspiciously also in New York, though a very Whitewashed version.

According to The Guardian, David Schwimmer, the guy who played Ross on Friends, addressed the very common criticism of the lack of diversity on Friends (because where in New York is it THAT White), by saying “I don’t care,” Schwimmer said. “That show was groundbreaking in its time for the way in which it handled so casually sex, protected sex, gay marriage, and relationships… You have to look at it from the point of view of what the show was trying to do at the time. I’m the first person to say that maybe something was inappropriate or insensitive, but I feel like my barometer was pretty good at that time. I was already really attuned to social issues and issues of equality.”

Following David’s interview appeared, Erica Alexander, who played Maxine Shaw (attorney at law. I had to say it) on Living Single, took to Twitter, “Hey @DavidSchwimmer @FriendsTV, r u seriously telling me you’ve never heard of #LivingSingle?” Alexander tweeted. “We invented the template. Yr welcome, bro. ;)”.

David immediately created his own iOS press release, saying:

“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. I didn’t mean to imply Living Single hadn’t existed or indeed hadn’t come before Friends, which I knew it had. 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.

I was a fan of Living Single and was not implying Friends was the first of its kind. To my knowledge, Friends (which came out a year later) was inspired by…

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Whitney Alese

Whitney Alese is a writer & podcaster, featured in WIRED Magazine (Sept 2020) & I-D Magazine (Dec. 2021), and NBC (Jan 2023). She is based in Philadelphia.