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Friends writer Patty Lin says show’s ‘unhappy’ cast ‘deliberately’ ruined jokes they didn’t like

Friends writer Patty Lin says show’s ‘unhappy’ cast ‘deliberately’ ruined jokes they didn’t like

Friends writer Patty Lin has claimed the sitcom’s cast grew to dislike their experience on the show, and would “aggressively” complain about specific jokes.

The former TV writer has reflected on her time working on the hit series’ sixth season in 2000 for a new book.

Lin had previously written for Freaks and Geeks before scoring a job on the NBC show, which was considered to be one of the most coveted writing roles in TV at the time.

Lin, however, has said that “the novelty” of working closely with the show’s primary cast – Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc – “wore off fast”.

This was due to the fact that “the actors seemed unhappy to be chained to a tired old show when they could be branching out”.

Writing in her memoir End Credits: How I Broke Up with Hollywood, an extract of which has been published by Time, Lin added: “I felt like they were constantly wondering how every given script would specifically serve them.”

She claimed that the cast would make it “vociferously” known if they were not a fan of a line of dialogue, stating “they rarely had anything positive to say, and when they brought up problems, they didn’t suggest feasible solutions”.

Lin added: “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.

“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.”

Lin, who went on to write for shows including Desperate Housewives and Breaking Bad, said that director Judd Apatow, who produced Freaks and Geeks, predicted her time on Friends would be a struggle as it was already a “well-oiled machine”.

Former ‘Friends’ writer says show were ‘unhappy’ during their time on the show (NBC)
Former ‘Friends’ writer says show were ‘unhappy’ during their time on the show (NBC)

Suggesting that Apatow was correct, Lin continued: “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 recognisable credit.”

Lin also said she grew to have “imposter syndrome”, which she says she “later learnt is a common experience for racial minorities who work in fields where they lack representation”.

“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,” said Lin.