T.C. Carson Says Calling Out Warner Bros.’ Unfair Treatment Of Living Single Cast Got Him Fired: “They Created Friends And Gave Them Everything”
If were a Living Single fan and needed confirmation that the character of Kyle Barker was an integral, irreplaceable part of the series, that became quite evident when he left the show (and they brought in a cat named “Tripp”). Though he reappeared for the series finale, Barker’s character did an early exit from the show after getting a job opportunity in London, last appearing in 1997’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore: Part 2 episode. During a recent interview with Comedy Hype, the actor who played Barker, Terrence C. Carson, shared that unlike other popular shows where major characters leave over contract disputes, spin-offs and new opportunities, he was forcibly made to go.
“I got fired,” he said. He believes it had everything to do with the fact that when the cast had issues, he was often in the forefront to speak his mind. That created friction with those behind the scenes.
“There were times where we had issues on the show. We would come to them as a cast but I would be the spokesperson for it,” he said. “And so, that last season before I left, they called me in and they basically said, ‘Well, all these problems we’ve been having, they listen to you. You’re the person they listen to. So if you said something else, then they would do that.’ I looked at them and said, ‘Well, first of all, we’re dealing with five grown people, and they have their own mindset and own ideas about what we’re doing. Everything we come to you with is a group decision, not my decision. But if you think I have that much power, then I need to have a different job.’ I don’t think they liked that.”
Issues they weren’t quiet about included everything from how characters were portrayed in the scripts to treatment at times. The cast would take their issues directly to those in charge, who got fed up.
“I think part of it is, even now, if you’re African-American, you shut your mouth and do your job. Don’t ask questions. Be happy that you have a job,” he said. “My whole time on Living Single, I was happy I had a job, but I understood the importance of the job I had. I understood the importance of what these characters meant to my community. And so when I come to you with a problem, it’s because of that, not because of ego. They looked at it as ego.”
He got the vibe that as his character was being shipped off to London, he was being axed from the show. When he asked those in charge if that was the case so that he could be prepared, they said no. But immediately after that episode aired early in Season 5, Carson said his lawyer called him and told him that those in charge weren’t bringing him back.
“It wasn’t that I got fired, it was the way it was done,” he said.
But it was certainly in line with the reality that Carson, and the cast as a whole, had always been fighting to get some respect that those who made Living Single just weren’t interested in giving them.
“We were getting less than all around. And then they created Friends and gave them everything,” he said. “Both shows were Warner Bros. shows on Warner Bros. lots. So to watch that, to be on our lot and to watch that, was really kind of a slap in the face.”
Former cast members and even show creator Yvette Lee Bowser have been open about their disappointment with the treatment NBC hit Friends got from the production company over their hit Fox series, especially since it was believed that Friends was a complete rip-off of Living Single. Earlier this year Erika Alexander, who played Maxine Shaw, had to educate former Friends star David Schwimmer on the reality that Living Single came before his series after he proposed an “all-Black” or “all-Asian” reboot of Friends.
Living Single aired from 1993 to 1998.