"'Friends' Was The All-White 'Living Single'": Erika Alexander Pens Essay Amid David Schwimmer Controversy
The Living Single actor breaks down the importance of the Twitter feud that came as she responded to Schwimmer’s comment about Friends being rebooted with an all-Black cast.
Titled “Why The Friends vs. Living Single Twitter Beef Really Matters” (via ZORA), Alexander doesn’t only recount how the feud came about (she slyly reminded Schwimmer that Living Single existed before Friends in response to Schwimmer saying that he’d want to see an all-Black Friends reboot if they decided to bring the series back), but its importance beyond the show’s similarities.
“…the show he was in was not the original, it was a knock-off,” she wrote in the essay. “So there can never be an all-Black Friends, because Friends was the all-white Living Single. It sounds funny to say it, but identifying that fact is exactly where the conversation starts to grow bigger than him, me, or a spontaneous tweet fight.”
From there, Alexander goes on to explain how the marginalization of Living Single speaks to how a show like Friends ended up surpassing the series that came before it.
“…our being marketed to a mostly Black audience signaled to brands that we were less than and would never command a higher evaluation. But that’s not just show biz, that’s America,” she wrote.
“If Black people and our accomplishments are continually not seen, then it’s easier to ghettoize us, to marginalize us, to shoot us,” she wrote elsewhere in the essay. “Then it’s easier to maintain (and teach the world,) the fiction that we don’t exist as full participants in the American dream, that we could never be equal to or better than.”
“That’s how a seemingly innocent comment from David Schwimmer reverberated in my community,” she continued. “Scratching the wound of a historic crime, it unleashed a posse of digital warriors, voicing their frustration against a rigged system that so marginalizes and under-represents us that it keeps us forever out of the cultural mainstream.”
The end of the essay finds Alexander making a call to action, while highlighting organizations trying to improve the Hollywood industry.
Last week, Schwimmer issued an apology to Alexander.