Why The Friends vs. Living Single Twitter Beef Really Matters

Erika Alexander, a star of the beloved sitcom, on the systemic ignorance behind the battle

Erika Alexander
ZORA
Published in
7 min readFeb 10, 2020

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The cast of “Living Single.” Photo: Fox

DDavid Schwimmer’s and my beef started like all things nowadays… with a tweet. It was just after Sundance. A friend had sent me a link to a Guardian article, an interview with actor David Schwimmer. In it David talked about his awareness in Hollywood as a privileged, hetero, White man. To demonstrate his commitment to racial diversity he discussed his past advocacy for a more diverse cast as part of the six-person acting ensemble in his juggernaut-sitcom, Friends. Cool. In the article David talked about how he pushed his producers to cast multi-racial, romantic relationships for his character “Ross.”

“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.”

Double Cool. But where it started to go south was the random comment he made after giving himself props for his social acuity:

“…I feel like my barometer was pretty good at that time. I was already really attuned to social issues and issues of equality…”

Hold on. Wait for it…

“…Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends.”

Whoops, there it is.

You see, David didn’t realize that the so-called, all Black Friends had already happened. In fact, I was in it. A sitcom I’m proud of, called Living Single, created by Yvette Lee Bowser. And we had happened a year before his show, Friends, was on the air. In fact, Living Single had happened within the same studio, Warner Brothers, in Burbank, on the annexed lot near his called The Warner Ranch.

But being in a hit show is hard work, so maybe he really didn’t know about us and wasn’t aware we existed. Heck, I had a few minutes to spare, I’d tell him. Quickly, all thumbs, while sitting on a chilly Salt Lake City tarmac, I sent my snarky — yes, I confess — tweet to David.

Hey ⁦@DavidSchwimmer@FriendsTV⁩ — R u seriously telling me…

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Erika Alexander
ZORA
Writer for

I’ve been in this entertainment game since film was cellulose & sound was vinyl. I’m not just flesh blood n’ bone anymore, I’m words n’ story. I’m mythological.