Chinese streaming platforms censor LGBTQ references in TV show Friends

Chinese streaming platforms censor LGBTQ references in TV show Friends

Scenes that have been cut include interactions between Ross and his ex-wife Carol, as well as Chandler and Joey's NYE kiss.
14 Feb, 2022

American TV show Friends has been a staple on our TV screens for well over decade and popular for both its comedy and characters but viewers in China won't get to see the show in its entirety as censors have cut scenes featuring LGBTQ characters.

According to Hong-Kong based newspaper South China Morning Post, censors have pulled out scenes between Ross (David Schwimmer) and his ex-wife Carol (Anita Barone) who came out as lesbian after their divorce. The story of both Ross and Carol parting ways is explored in the initial episodes with the former mourning his new single life.

Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Chandler's (Matthew Perry) New Year kiss on screen was also cut. According to the publication, the censors also replaced a dialogue in the subtitles. What once read "multiple orgasms" was changed to "women have endless gossips."

Chinese fans of the show took their reactions to the alterations to social media site Weibo after the first season aired on multiple local streaming platforms in China. They protested against the changes made in the show and trending the hashtag #FriendsCensored to the top of the website. According to CNN, the hashtags were also censored on Saturday.

According to the Morning Post, a popular comment on Weibo read, "Seriously, if you can't broadcast [the complete version], just don't do it at all. [The streaming platforms] spent big bucks to buy the rights [to the show], but efforts to alter lines and edit out scenes ended up being slammed by the audience. What for?"

Previously the authorities were also slammed for removing many scenes from Friends Reunion where segments featuring stars Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and BTS were edited out. They also removed all references to the LGBTQ community made in the reunion.

This isn't the first time Chinese authorities have edited western films or TV serials. Quite recently they also changed Fight Club's original ending to the authorities ultimately winning. Marvel's Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings also never made it to Chinese cinemas in an effort to remove "western influence" in Asia.