Jon Ragel / NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection
Patty Lin, a former TV writer, is opening up about her experience working on the hit sitcom Friends and says that she did not have the best experience.
After working on Freaks and Geeks, Lin had the opportunity to write for the hit NBC sitcom in the year 2000. The thought of writing for big stars like Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.
“But the novelty of seeing Big Stars up close wore off fast, along with my zeal about breakfast. The actors seemed unhappy to be chained to a tired old show when they could be branching out, and I felt like they were constantly wondering how every given script would specifically serve them,” Lin wrote in her memoir End Credits: How I Broke Up with Hollywood (via Time).
She continued, “They all knew how to get a laugh, but if they didn’t like a joke, they seemed to deliberately tank it, knowing we’d rewrite it. Dozens of good jokes would get thrown out just because one of them had mumbled the line through a mouthful of bacon. David [Crane] and Marta [Kauffman] never said, ‘This joke is funny. The actor just needs to sell it.’”
Lin goes on to write that the actors voiced their opinions “vociferously” when they didn’t like something on the script adding, “They rarely had anything positive to say, and when they brought up problems, they didn’t suggest feasible solutions. Seeing themselves as guardians of their characters, they often argued that they would never do or say such-and-such. That was occasionally helpful, but overall, these sessions had a dire, aggressive quality that lacked all the levity you’d expect from the making of a sitcom.”
The former writer of shows like Desperate Housewives and Breaking Bad also said that during her time on Friends, she suffered from “imposter syndrome.”
“But imposter syndrome, I later learned, is a common experience for racial minorities who work in fields where they lack representation,” she explained. “As the only Asian writer in many rooms, I felt so alone, buckling under the pressure to represent my entire race and prove that I deserved a seat at the table—or a spot on that stage.”
Lin says that Judd Apatow, the producer of Freaks and Geeks, warned her about taking the job on Friends as it was already a “well oil machine” and she wouldn’t learn anything adding, “I didn’t learn that much, except that I never wanted to work on a sitcom again. But the choice had been clear at the time. And, for better or worse, Friends would remain my most recognizable credit.”