Lin, a retired TV writer who also wrote for Freaks and Geeks, Breaking Bad, and Desperate Housewives, has reflected on her time working on the hit sitcom in a new memoir titled End Credits: How I Broke Up With Hollywood.
In the book, Lin paints a somewhat miserable picture of stint on Friends, which she joined in its seventh season. The comedy ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004.
The writer said that the lead actors – Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, and Matthew Perry – “seemed unhappy to be chained to a tired old show when they could be branching out”.
Lin did, however, mention one highlight of her time on Friends, which involved Schwimmer, who played paleontologist Ross Geller.
In an extract obtained by Us Weekly, Lin spoke about her time as an extra in the season seven episode “The One With All the Candy”.
“I escaped from the dreaded huddle and stepped onto the set, joining the rowdy mob packed into the hallway,” she recalled.
“David Schwimmer, who was directing the episode, came over to give instructions. ‘Patty, can you scooch closer to the door?’
“I scooched, thrilled that instead of saying, ‘Hey, you.’ Schwimmer addressed me by name. … Really, it takes so little for a celebrity to seem like a decent person.”
She went on to call Schwimmer’s small gesture in remembering her name “the highpoint of my Friends experience”.
“For once, I felt like I had something to do with the show,” said Lin.
She said: “I felt like they were constantly wondering how every given script would specifically serve them.” Lin went on to say that if a cast member did not like a joke, “they seemed to deliberately tank it”.
As a result, “dozens of good jokes would get thrown out just because one of them had mumbled the line through a mouthful of bacon”.
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.
Prior to joining Friends, Lin said that director Judd Apatow, who produced Freaks and Geeks, predicted her time on the sitcom would be a struggle given that it was already six seasons in and “a well-oiled machine”.
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.”