The hit sitcom Friends has been released on streaming services in China but references to things like homosexuality and sex have been censored out. In the recent Chinese version, when Ross Geller’s (David Schwimmer) parents inquire about his divorce with Carol (Anita Barone and later, Jane Sibbett), his response has been cut out.
In the original episode, Ross explains that Carol is a lesbian and is pregnant with his child and will be raising the kid with her girlfriend Susan. The Chinese episode directly cuts to Roos’ parents’ stunned expression. Some viewers have also pointed out that the globe was censored in an episode.
Other edits were also made. The subtitles say that Paul the Wine Guy has been in “low spirits” when he tells Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) he hasn’t been able to “perform sexually”. When Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) suggests they should go to a strip club, the subtitles state that they’re “going out to have fun”.
Rachel Green’s (Jennifer Aniston) comment that she is more “turned on” by a gravy boat than her ex-fiancé is changed to the fact that Rachel is 'happier to see' the gravy boat.
These changes to Friends, a sitcom that is wildly popular in China did not sit well with fans. However, the popular sitcom is just another example of The Communist Party monitoring foreign content.
Friends was also released in China earlier without the edits. A streaming service Sohu Video earlier held the rights to the show in 2012 and it was broadcast with the original scenes and dialogues. However, even Sohu Video has the censored version of the show now.
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Fight Club’ Have Been Censored Earlier
Even the Friends reunion special had some changes made to it- the cameos by Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, and BTS were removed before it was aired in China. Even in the Chinese version of the Queen biopic titled Bohemian Rhapsody, the scene wherein Freddie Mercury tells his fiance that he is gay was removed.
Recently, in January, the last scene in Fight Club was changed to make the authorities win. In the original film, many buildings storing credit information were blown up but the Chinese version ended with a note saying that authorities reached the spot on time and sent the character Tyler Durden to a ‘lunatic asylum’. The original version was later restored following social media outrage.
Only the first season of Friends has been released on China’s streaming sites for now and soon after, #FriendsDeleted started trending on Chinese social media site ‘Weibo’. However, the hashtag has also been censored, according to the South China Morning Post.
(With inputs from SCMP and The New York Times)