Friends Star David Schwimmer Apologizes for Diversity Comments: 'I Didn't Mean to Imply Living Single Hadn't Existed'

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David Schwimmer has issued an apology to a Living Single actress who called him out on social media for his recent comments about diversity on the hit series Friends. 

Schwimmer was part of a feature on The Guardian late last month, and he opened up about the recent wave of criticism leveled at the series regarding its lack of racial diversity.

“I don’t care,” he said of the modern-day perception of the iconic series, which aired on NBC from 1994 to 2004.

David Schwimmer Attends Golden Globes

“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."

He continued, "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.”

The actor also noted that he "campaigned for years" to have Ross date women of color, adding that “Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends.”

Living Single actress, Erika Alexander, who played Max on the Fox comedy took to social media to air her thoughts on Schwimmer's comments. 

Erika Alexander Attends Event

“Hey @DavidSchwimmer @FriendsTV, r u seriously telling me you’ve never heard of #LivingSingle?” Alexander tweeted. “We invented the template. Yr welcome, bro. ;)”

Schwimmer subsequently responded via social media, sending a message directly to Alexander in the comments section of her tweet. 

He admired her show, and admitted he was a fan of it, saying, "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.”

David Schwimmer

You can read the full message below:

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.

David Schwimmer Attends Event

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 [series creators] Marta [Kaufmann] & David [Crane]’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. 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. In any event, if my quote was taken out of context, it’s hardly in my control. I assure you I meant no disrespect.

David

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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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