Erika Alexander reflects on 30 years since ‘Living Single’ debut

The Cosby Show, Wu-Tang: An American Saga and new film American Fiction all have the same thing in common: beloved actor Erika Alexander scored roles in the projects. 

She’s most known for playing Maxine Shaw on the hit ’90s sitcom Living Single, and she joined Tamron Hall recently to reflect on 30 years since the show’s debut. 

Yvette Bowser wrote a beautiful script,” Alexander said. “She had already been honed at [A] Different World and … brought us characters and brought us life.”

Alexander added of the TV pioneer, “She’s a fantastic writer. … If not for her, we wouldn’t be together. She was the first Black female showrunner to have a show on prime time.”

Hall recalled an interview Alexander had done where she mentioned that Living Single drew inspiration from The Golden Girls.

Addressing a side-by-side image comparison Hall displayed onscreen, Alexander said that the “categories” — or personalities — of each of the leading characters were similar. 

“And I think I’m Grandma. I think I’m Maude,” she joked of Bea Arthur, who starred in Maude and as Dorothy on Golden Girls. “Maxine Shaw had that kind of energy.”

Alexander added, “But I think it’s important to say you build upon other people’s success. And I really would include that inside of the success of this type of four-person group.”

Living Single, a comedy series centered around the lives and friendships of four Black women who live together in Brooklyn, aired on Fox stations from August 1993 to January 1998. Throughout its run, it became one of the most popular and influential Black sitcoms; many consider it the inspiration for the NBC classic Friends. 

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