Matthew Perry Refused To Film Controversial Friends LBGTQ+ Storyline
It’s perhaps testament to the warmth and humour of the show that – 25 years since Rachel first rushed in that wedding dress – we all want to know more about the making of Friends.
A new book has now been released which reveals plenty about the various twists and turns the classic sitcom chose not to take. And it’s apparent some scenes were best left tucked away in Monica’s secret closet (The One With The Secret Closet).
Penned by pop culture historian Saul Austerlitz, Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era is a must read for anyone who loves 90s era humour. And some of the revelations are genuinely fascinating.
The book dishes plenty of behind the scenes gossip from the show which defined a generation, including about the one scene Matthew Perry said no to.
Perry, now 50, reportedly vetoed a storyline which would have seen his character Chandler Bing sneak into a gay bar simply because he loves their tuna melts.
No doubt this storyline would have aged worse than the tuna melt itself, with plenty of jokes around Chandler frantically letting everyone know he wasn’t gay.
Austerlitz notes in the book:
Perry said no, and the story was shelved.
I must say, I’m really kind of glad this particular storyline didn’t see the light of day. As beloved as Friends is – and I genuinely, wholeheartedly love Friends – the show never quite struck the right chord when it came to tackling LGBTQ+ issues.
Although supposedly centring around a bunch of hip, sophisticated New Yorkers, the series was peppered with jokes which centred around the male characters’ chronic – almost obsessive – discomfort with their sexuality.
This is perhaps truest with Chandler, who feared being perceived as gay almost as much as he feared commitment; making endless fretful jokes at the expense of his ‘gay dad’.
We’re clearly supposed to gather that Chandler’s unconventional childhood left him with a shaken sense of self, but Chandler is supposedly a smart, well-read guy with a famously dry wit. It strikes an odd tone that this would concern him so deeply.
Just to pull an example out of the vast boxset, Chandler’s humiliation when his friends discover he accidentally ‘kissed a guy’ back in college (The One With Rachel’s Assistant) feels kind of OTT in retrospect. I mean, could it be any less of a big deal?
Chandler was of course by no means the only culprit in this regard. Who could forget when Ross – an unapologetic dater of students and a no-buts-about-it cheater – went absolutely frantic at the thought of Baby Emma having a male nanny? (The One With The Male Nanny).
Ross even outright asked Sandy the nanny if he’s gay, and expressed extreme discomfort with the supposed feminine, sensitive attributes of Sandy and his career choices. Not since sandwich-gate had we seen Ross so rattled.
Other wisely scrapped plot-lines reportedly involved Rachel moving in with creepy Gunther (!) and Chandler making bomb jokes at an airport.
You can purchase your own copy of Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era here.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 9am until 9pm Monday to Friday, and 10am until 6pm Saturday, Or email [email protected]