‘Friends’ reunion censored in China over LGBT content

The Friends reunion special was one of the highlights of TV this week but viewers in China didn’t get to see the whole show, with references to the LGBTI communities being cut out of the broadcast.

Seventeen years after they taped the final episode of the sitcom that ran for a decade, stars Courtney Cox, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Matt Le Blanc and Matthew Perry got back together to reminisce.

The special saw them wandering about the re-constructed set of the show, conducting a table read of the some of the moment memorable moments, and chatting with James Corden about the experience of making the hit program.

When the program aired in China though, broadcasters cut out several sections. Chinese broadcasters apply a self-censorship code that aims to remove content that might be offensive to the audience and the ruling Communist party.  Entertainment bible Variety has documented what got chopped out of the Chinese transmissions.

While Global audiences got to see Lady Gaga sitting down with Lisa Kudrow to perform the song Smelly Cat, the Chinese broadcasts cutaway before Gaga and her choir appeared. The reason is probably not defence of odorous felines, rather Gaga has been out of favour in China since she met with the Dali Lama in 2016.

Justin Bieber was also edited out. He appeared in a catwalk presentation alongside Cindy Crawford and Cara Delevingne that highlighted the fashion and costumes of the show. Bieber got to showcase David Schwimmer’s ‘Spudnik’ outfit for most audiences but was the Chinese broadcast skipped over his moves. Bieber is banned in China for being a bad influence.

Throughout the show there were also clips of fans around the world sharing their love of the series, but sections that referenced the LGBTIQ+ communities were pulled. German fan Ricardo talked about how Jennifer Aniston’s hair inspired him was omitted, as was a clip where a woman referenced her same-sex partner.

The Friends Reunion is available to stream on Foxtel and Foxtel Binge.

OIP Staff

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