The Perks of a Provisional Display

Deemed the predecessor of Friends, Living Single also seems to rank better than the latter. Themes obviously overlap: a close-knit group of friends share their personal and professional experiences with each other. Proximity and shared history enables them to interact constantly: the three girls live in a condo neighboring on the apartment of the two male figures. To spice it up a bit more, a fourth friend of the female trio drops by and blends in with the group.

The title says all there is to know about the narrative of the show: each of the 6 central characters is initially single. Khadijah James focuses on her career, Synclaire James-Jones has a vague idea about her way in life and loves to gossip, Regina Hunter is the typical fashion victim, and Max comes by to share with the girls her insights about whatnot.

They are all single, just as Kyle Barker, the neighbor, and his roommate, Overton Wakefield Jones. So far, so good. But did you notice how characters seem to fade as soon as they hook up? Max maintains the fire burning – well, more or less openly – for Kyle: is this on and off again romance between the two the reason why Max is not a resident? As if producers wanted to slip the idea that being single is a prerequisite for being a central character of Living Single.

Getting back to Synclaire, she and Overton disappear from the show as soon as they get married in the fourth season. No, no room for them once being single becomes a thing of the past. They exit the show making way to new characters to develop and draw viewers’ attention. It’s no coincidence Living Single ends with Khadijah’s finding Mr. Right and leaving the apartment.

Just like in life, being single is a provisional situation, however rich in constructive experiences, however fun and apparently material to once sense of identity. In a way, the sitcom glorifies the interim, showcasing the perks of bachelorhood. You can make friends, build your career, and gain a sense of social and professional affirmation. In the end, we all do away with all that once we head for a show on a different topic, generally of domestic variety.


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