Described usually as Friends before Friends, the ladies of Living Single didn’t have too much in common with the ones of the Jennifer Aniston and Co. sitcom. They weren’t the top-model/cute-looking girls which are popularized in the most recent shows. Living Simple didn’t want to impose a certain type of woman, the top-model-like female all girls want to be when growing up.
Sure, like most shows of this kind (young single friends trying to make a living in a big city), Living Single did share some tropes with other series, such as sexual tension between two characters (Kyle and Max), breaking the fourth wall (the Mystery Date episode), and so on.
However, this is where the similarities with other shows stop. The models presented in Living Single are characters whose concern for looks falls way behind on a list of priorities. The idea is that situational comedy doesn’t necessarily need to rely on a character’s physicality.
With the female leads of Living Single, the studio tried to have a more realistic approach as to what could happen when single roommates band together. Of course, it can be said that this is actually a blueprint which was used before and after this series aired.
However, even if a concept is recycled, that doesn’t mean that improvements cannot be made. So, in my opinion, this is what made Living Single work as a show. Not relying on how a character looks gives more freedom to the writer to develop and to enrich that character.
And so we have Khadijah James, Synclaire James-Jones, Maxine ‘Max’ Felice Shaw and Regine Hunter, four average-looking women chasing their dreams in New York.
In my opinion, while the blueprint remained, it was improved at the same time. And this isn’t usually seen in many TV show.
So is it OK to compare Living Single with Friends? It is, to a certain degree. However, I cannot say that they are almost the same, unless I am being superficial about it.