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#FriendsCensored: LGBTQ storylines in 'Friends' get cut out from series' re-release in China

By AYIE LICSI Published Feb 15, 2022 6:31 pm

The popular 90s sitcom Friends has been re-released in China last Feb. 11, but the show notably faced censorship changes with its LGBTQ storylines cut out.

The changes to the pop culture staple sparked outrage among Chinese fans, causing the hashtag #FriendsCensored to trend on Weibo.

Fans noticed that memorable moments were altered or cut from the show like mentions of Ross' ex-wife Carol being a lesbian. There's an episode in the second season of the show that saw Carol marry her partner Susan, which the main characters attended.

Susan and Carol in 'Friends'

A scene of Joey and Chandler kissing on New Year's Eve in the first season was also removed.

There were also some incorrect translations like with a scene of the friends talking about sex. In one scene, Ross said "Women can have multiple orgasms," which the Chinese subtitles turned into "Women have endless gossips." However, they still kept the original soundtrack and English subtitles for the scene.

On replacing the word "orgasm" with "gossip," one user found it an "insult to our English language ability."

"Not only does it ignore women's sexual desire and enjoyment, but also reinforces the gender stereotype on women," the user said.

Others called to boycott the edited version of the show, saying "this is defiling a classic."

"If you can't show the complete version under the current atmosphere, then don't import it," another commented.

Last year, Friends: The Reunion was also censored in China, with cameos by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and BTS cut from the Chinese version.

This wasn't the first time Friends was streamed in China. The show first hit platforms Sohu Video and iQiyi in 2012 and it was not censored. It was later removed in 2013 after the streaming agreement ended.

China has also censored other media with LGBTQ storylines, like Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody in 2018 wherein mentions and depictions of Freddie Mercury's homosexuality were cut from the film's theatrical release.

Last year, the country also banned effeminate men from TV broadcasts to "put an end to sissy men" and encourage masculinity in young men.