Much to the surprise of fans everywhere, one of the writers for Friends (1994-2004) has opened up about her negative experience working on the hit sitcom. In her memoir, End Credits: How I Broke Up with Hollywood, Patty Lin reveals what it was like to be a crew member on a number of television series, such as Desperate Housewives (2004-12) and Breaking Bad (2008-13), prior to her retirement in 2008.
While she discusses a number of reasons behind her departure from the industry, including long working hours and cliquey co-workers, Lin describes her time on Friends as “no dream job.”
Patty Lin had issues with the industry before Friends
While writing for TV sounds like a dream job, Patty Lin says her rose-colored glasses fell off relatively quickly upon entering the industry. “My disillusionment [with the business] had begun at my very first writing job,” Lin wrote. However, it seemed to have returned to her good side with her second job, a stint writing for Freaks and Geeks (1999).
That’s likely why she jumped at the chance to work on Friends. Lin joined the team during the show’s seventh season, at a time when it was bringing in around 22 million viewers in America. Like any fan of the series, she was most excited to meet the cast, comprised of Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer.
However, they didn’t seem to be the “friend-ly” (pun intended) cast she expected them to be, with Lin writing, “The novelty of seeing Big Stars up close wore off fast.”
The cast were overly protective of their characters
Turns out, the cast were sticklers about their scripts, with Lin revealing, “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.”
She revealed that during readings, the six would “deliberately tank” jokes they didn’t like “knowing we’d rewrite” them, adding, “Dozens of good jokes would get thrown out just because one of them had mumbled the line through a mouthful of bacon.”
It’s no surprise, then, that Lin lost her “zeal about breakfast.”
In a particularly revealing excerpt, she explained how “everyone would sit around Monica and Chandler’s apartment and discuss the script. This was the actors’ first opportunity to voice their opinions, which they did vociferously.
“They rarely had anything positive to say, and when they brought up problems, they didn’t suggest feasible solutions,” she continued. “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.”
Patty Lin suffered from imposter syndrome
Prior to accepting the job, Freaks and Geeks‘ producer Judd Apatow had warned Patty Lin against taking the gig, saying it was already a “well oil machine” and that she wouldn’t learn much from the experience. Unfortunately, she admitted, “I didn’t learn that much, except that I never wanted to work on a sitcom again.”
As if dealing with a salty cast wasn’t enough, Lin also had the unique experience of being the only Asian writer on the show’s team. As a result, she suffered from imposter syndrome, frequently wondering if her spot was only secured because she was a diversity hire.
“Imposter syndrome, I later learned, is a common experience for racial minorities who work in fields where they lack representation,” she explained in her memoir. “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.”
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Regardless of her overall negative experience, Linn admitted one thing for certain: “For better or worse, Friends would remain my most recognizable credit.”