In recent years, Friends has come under intense criticism from people watching it for the first time.
As the sitcom became available to watch on streaming platforms such as Netflix, those who hadn’t been able to watch it previously did so – and they weren’t impressed.
With the new viewers saying Friends lacked diversity in its mostly white cast, many have also condemned its various storylines and punchlines, describing them as homophobic, sexist, and transphobic.
Now though, the creator of the popular sitcom has spoken out, saying she would only cut one joke in the entire sitcom if she had the chance.
In an interview with USA Today, Marta Kauffman admitted the show might not necessarily have used ‘the appropriate terms’ when referring to transgender people and so would go about it differently if they were to film it again.
I think we didn’t have the knowledge about transgender people back then, so I’m not sure if we used the appropriate terms.
I don’t know if I would have known those terms back then. I think that’s the biggest one.
When asked to confirm if she meant the storyline about Chandler Bing’s dad, Kauffman said: ‘Yes, Chandler’s dad’.
Throughout the series, Chandler’s dad Charles, played by Kathleen Turner, made a smattering of appearances; Charles had a drag show called Viva Las Gaynas in which she went by the name Helena Handbasket.
Turner has since said the show hasn’t aged well in that respect, telling Gay Times the character was more of a comedic stereotype than support for LGBTQ+ rights.
The actor explained:
I don’t think it’s aged well. It was a 30-minute sitcom. It became a phenomenon, but no-one ever took it seriously as a social comment.
How they approached me with it was, ‘Would you like to be the first woman playing a man playing a woman?’ I said yes, because there weren’t many drag/trans people on television at the time.
However, kauffman went on to say one joke in particular would probably be cut if they were to re-do the series.
In The One with the Rumor, Ross and Will (Brad Pitt) reveal they spread a lie at school that Rachel was a hermaphrodite – a joke that has since been described as ‘hurtful’ and ‘offensive’ by many.
Kauffman suggested the joke wouldn’t be included given another chance, saying:
I might have not done the hermaphrodite stuff today if I had that to do over.
Despite having not aged well, Friends remains one of the most popular sitcoms of all times and continues to draw new audiences in.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).