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Film and TV

Matthew Perry shut down a problematic gay storyline in Friends

Josh Milton September 30, 2019
Matthew Perry. (Michael Kovac/FilmMagic)

Matthew Perry. (Michael Kovac/FilmMagic)

Friends is one of those cult classic and forever popular shows that, sadly, hasn’t aged too well.

This year, the NBC show turned 25 and the actors behind the cast all came out to celebrate 15 years on since Rachel made the call to get off the plane.

But in the 25 years, some fans have come to realise that the show’s treatment of LGBT+ lives and issues wasn’t exactly great.

Chandler Bing, played by Matthew Perry, was the son of a drag artist who starred in her own Las Vegas residency, titled Viva Las Gaygas.

Matthew Perry just “said no” at the pitched homophobic plot.

Played by Kathleen Turner, Chandler’s trans parent was often ridiculed and mocked for the sake of canned laughter.

Such as in her debut episode in 2001, ‘The One With Chandler’s Dad’.

Throughout, Chandler refused to recognise her gender identity, using the dead name “Charles” rather than her chosen name “Helena”.

But in a new book, Generation Friends: An Inside Look At The Show That Defined a Television Era, author and pop historian Saul Austerlitz claims Perry shut down a pretty homophobic storyline, according to the Metro.co.uk.

According to the book, the plot-line would have seen Chandler dine out in a gay bar because it does the best tuna melts.

Chandler being a straight man in a gay bar would have been the source of comedy, apparently.

Austerlitz explained: “Perry said no, and the story was shelved.”

Friends creator Marta Kauffman: We didn’t have the knowledge about trans people back then.

Ahead of the anniversary, Kauffman admitted that the running gag of Chandler’s casual homophobia and transphobia is something she has come to regret.

Writer and producer Marta Kauffman speaks during a panel on Day 1 of the SCAD aTVfest 2018 on February 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Writer and producer Marta Kauffman speaks during a panel on Day 1 of the SCAD aTVfest 2018 on February 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Paras Griffin/Getty)

“I think we didn’t have the knowledge about transgender people back then,” she recounted, “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.”

She added: “Every time I watch an episode, there’s something I wish I could have changed.”

Kauffman also referenced an episode in which guest star Brad Pitt plays a childhood friend of Ross and Rachel who spread a “rumour that Rachel was a hermaphrodite”.

More: entertainment, friends, Matthew Perry

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