Former television writer Patty Lin has lifted the lid on what it was really like to work on some of TV's biggest series in her new memoir, End Credits: How I Broke Up With Hollywood, which was released earlier this week.
Patty reflects on her time on hugely popular shows in the book, and while she credits her "positive experience" on Freaks & Geeks for helping to stave off her early disillusion in the industry, the same can sadly not be said for many of the other popular projects that she worked on over the years.
Discussing her time writing for Desperate Housewives, Patty admits that she was already close to leaving Hollywood when she read creator Marc Cherry's script for the show in 2004.
This ended up winning Patty over, and when she joined the writer's room for Season 1 she enjoyed a brief "honeymoon period" in a "surprisingly democratic" work environment.
But this wasn't to last, and, per Entertainment Weekly, Patty goes on to reveal that working for Marc was the first time that she "encountered overt racism."
Patty's parents are Taiwanese, and she quickly discovered that she was the only person of color on the show's 10-person staff of "big personalities."
"The biggest was Marc's," she writes. "I had never encountered overt racism until I worked for him."
Patty details a time when the writers were talking about Margaret Cho's sitcom All American Girl, which is about a Korean-American family. "Marc turned to me and said, 'Patty, you should write a show like that,'" she shares. "I love Margaret Cho, but please don't lump us together just because we're both Asian women in show business."
Patty describes Marc as a showrunner "who was impossible to please," and says that it felt "obvious" to her that Marc "didn't have a vision" for Desperate Housewives beyond the pilot.
She accuses him of having "obsessive tendencies" and a "maniacal drive," which left him "incapable of articulating what he wanted."
In her memoir, Patty recalls the way that Marc had to retreat to his own "writing bungalow" that was in an "undisclosed location because he had a short attention span." She adds: "Keeping him in solitary was the only way to get this goose to lay any eggs."
She also compares the Desperate Housewives writer's room to Lord of the Flies as she criticized the "wildly inefficient system."
"It's a miracle that any episodes of Desperate Housewives ever got made," Patty writes. "The quality that had attracted me to the pilot — the dark humor — was lost in the slapdash, assembly-line approach to what was supposed to be a creative process. We were putting out schlock. The fact that it became the hottest show on TV, won multiple awards, ran for eight years, and earned more revenue than god still boggles my mind."
Patty also recalls feeling unwelcome during table reads with the cast or while on set, saying: "Usually we'd see the cast only at table reads, where we'd sit quietly in the back and try not to make eye contact with Teri Hatcher."
Per Entertainment Weekly, Patty was let go by ABC partway through the first season of Desperate Housewives, which ended up running between 2004 and 2012.
BuzzFeed has contacted Marc's rep and ABC for comment.
And Desperate Housewives isn't the only huge show that Patty calls out in her memoir, with her experience on Friends also being an unenjoyable one.
The sitcom ran from 1994 to 2004, and in 2000 — just two years into her career — Patty was told that the team wanted to meet with her ahead of Season 7.
While the writer was excited for the opportunity, she was also hyper-aware that NBC had "just launched a diversity program" with the goal of hiring "more writers of color."
Similarly to Desperate Housewives, Patty was "the only minority" in the Friends writer's room that was composed of 14 people, nine of which were white men.
The writers endured grueling 12-hour days working on the episodes, and Patty also opens up about the time she spent with the A-list cast in her book.
She says that the "novelty" of seeing Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, and Matthew Perry in real life quickly wore off, and claimed that the actors would "deliberately tank" the lines that they didn't like during table reads in order to get a rewrite.
"The actors seemed unhappy to be chained to a tired old show when they could be branching out," Patty writes. "I felt like they were constantly wondering how every given script would specifically serve them."
She also calls out the cast for the "dire, aggressive" approach that they apparently had when airing their grievances with the script, explaining: "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."
"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 goes on.
Patty was not asked to return for Season 8 of Friends when Season 7 wrapped, and while she admits that she felt "mortified" by the decision she also recalls being "a little bit relieved." She ended up retiring from TV writing entirely in 2008.
These Minuscule Sitcom Details That Show The Writers Were Playing Chess While We Were Playing CheckersBenjamin Dzialdowski · Aug. 19, 2023
15 Times Hollywood Wrote Brilliant Arcs For TV Characters, And 16 Times They Flushed Their Growth Down The ToiletKayla Yandoli · July 11, 2021