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Kathleen Turner would refuse part on Friends as Chandler’s drag queen parent if asked today

Josh Milton November 13, 2019
Actress Kathleen Turner played Chandler Bing's father on the Tv series Friends. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for The Women's Media Center)

Actress Kathleen Turner played Chandler Bing's father on the Tv series Friends. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for The Women's Media Center)

Remember The One With That Problematic And Kinda Transphobic Portrayal of Drag Queens And Trans People On Friends?

For three episodes, actor Kathleen Turner donned glittery gowns to play as Chandler Bing’s parent, Helena Handbasket, on the iconic American sitcom.

A role that she has since said she’s not to keen to do again.

Actor behind Chandler’s parent wouldn’t do’ the role today.

In the series, the Las Vegas performer had a strained relationship with her son, played by Matthew Perry.

Her identity and employment was often reduced to canned laughter jokes on the show.

Decades on, Turner, 65, told Watch What Happens Live: “Of course I wouldn’t do it now because there would be real people able to do it.”

She explained how she took up the role to try something new, being a part she hadn’t played before.

“At the time, one of the co-creators of Friends, we were doing a show based on Tallulah Bankhead,” she explained.

“And he came up to see the show in San Francisco and came backstage and said: ‘You have to play Chandler’s dad.’

“And I thought: ‘OK, a woman playing a man playing a woman. I haven’t done that’.

“So I said: ‘yes’.”

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

Throughout the show, Chandler not only deadnamed Helena but never recognised her gender identity and even pretended to physically wretch watching her perform on stage.

It was a plot-line that series creator Marta Kauffman even expressed regret over.

Reflecting on the legacy of the series, Kauffman admitted: “I think we didn’t have the knowledge about transgender people back then, so I’m not sure if we used the appropriate terms.”

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)

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

“I don’t know if I would have known those terms back then. I think that’s the biggest one.”

Moreover, while reflecting on the legacy of her creation, she also confirmed that Chandler’s parent was a trans woman.

More: chandler bing, friends, Kathleen Turner, Trans

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