“I was scared of them”- ‘Friends’’ Writer Patty Lin Shares Her Struggles While Working for the Hit Sit-Com

Published 08/22/2023, 8:51 AM EDT

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In the orbit of TV greatness, shows like Friends, Breaking Bad, and Desperate Housewives owe their allure to the masterful storytelling of none other than Paty Lin. The genius behind these shows breathed life into their very essence. The iconic sitcom Friends soared to such incredible heights of success that being a part of it turned into a coveted status symbol. Especially for Lin.

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While it may have unfolded to become a phenomenon, it was not always the case. Patty Lin gave the world a writer’s point of view when openly discussed the challenges she confronted while participating in the popular sitcom.

Patty Lin’s candid reflections on working as a Friends writer

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At 38, Patty Lin said goodbye to TV writing. She felt disheartened about her choice when asked, citing support for the WGA strike and the industry’s challenges. Joining Friends after just 2 years made her anxious. She questioned if her role came from skills or looks due to NBC’s diversity program. The presence of Marta Kauffman and David Crane also played a significant role in shaping her experience, exerting a certain level of control over her work.

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Lin disclosed that they had designated distinct teams for individual episodes, situating each team in separate rooms. One of these teams was under the guidance of Kaufmann other by Crane. While speaking with TIME, Lin said, “I was scared of them both, for different reasons.”

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David embodied an insatiable work ethic, often scrutinizing individuals. Meanwhile, Marta, who had a polar diverse approach to a reunion displayed a sincere commitment to the diversity program. Lin would go to great lengths to evade one-on-one interactions with her. Despite NBC’s emphasis on diversity, the cast of Friends fell notably short of reflecting such a cultural variety.

Peering behind the scenes of the iconic NBC sit-com

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The common criticism directed at Friends often centers on its failure to embrace diversity. Despite its vibrant New York City backdrop, celebrated for its cultural tapestry, the show’s primary cast remained predominantly white. While fleeting characters of color like Charlie Wheeler and Julie appeared on the scene, they functioned primarily as short-lived romantic sparks, quickly fizzling out of the storyline.

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Adding to the disappointment, the show resorted to worn-out stereotypes when introducing diverse characters. Think back to Julie, Ross’s Asian-American girlfriend, portrayed as a brilliant paleontologist. Then there’s Charlie Wheeler, the exceptionally gifted African-American paleontologist who perplexingly chose Ross over Joey. It’s hardly surprising that these characters faced backlash for their shallow portrayal and token representation.

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What do you think about Patty Lin’s struggles as a writer on Friends? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Riva Khan

287 articles

Riva Khan is an entertainment reporter at NetflixJunkie. Given her love for the language and writing, she has honed her narrative skills from a young age. She loves her latest tea in Hollywood and keeps an eye on the news.

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