Friends star David Schwimmer has responded to Erika Alexander calling him out for not publicly acknowledging Living Single during a recent interview in which he spoke about the sitcom’s lack of diversity.
After Schwimmer revealed he advocated for his character, Ross, to date Black women during the show’s run on NBC in the 90s, he also told The Guardian that there “should be an all-Black Friends or an all-Asian Friends.”
Living Single star Alexander was quick to point out that there had already been a series that explored his premise—her show. Her co-star Queen Latifah has also said in previous interviews that then-NBC president Warren Littlefield at the time said that his favorite series was Living Single. Shortly afterward, Friends premiered on his network.
Schwimmer took to social media Wednesday to clarify his comments, responding to Alexander’s tweet in a screenshot written statement.
“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,” he began.
“I didn’t mean to imply Living Single hadn’t existed or indeed hadn’t come before Friends, which I knew it had,” he continued. “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.”
Schwimmer then tried to refute longstanding claims that Friends was greenlit on NBC because the network’s then-president was a fan of Living Single.
“To my knowledge, Friends (which came out a year later) was inspired by [creator] Marta and David’s own lives and circle of friends living in NY in their twenties. If it was based on Living Single you’d have to ask them,” he wrote. “It’s entirely possible that Warner Brothers and NBC, encouraged by the success of Living Single, gave the Friends pilot a green light. I honestly don’t know, but seems likely! If that’s the case, we are all indebted to Living Single for paving the way.”
Schwimmer concluded that his quotes taken out of context aren’t in his control.
“I assure you I meant no disrespect,” he said.