Chinese censors erased scenes from ‘Friends’

The long-awaited return of the cult series 'Friends' to Chinese streaming platforms has come under fire from Chinese censors over an episode in which one of the female characters is homosexual, angering fans of the American series who had the opportunity to watch the original version.

Chinese censors erased scenes from ‘Friends’

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The first season of 'Friends' began airing on Chinese streaming platforms on Friday. But fans, who have watched the series before, have noticed the absence of some scenes, including the one in which Ross explains that his ex-wife Carol is a lesbian. Some have reported the omission of scenes and mistranslations of sentences by LGBTQI characters and scenes alluding to strip clubs and orgasms.

This was sharply reacted by users of the Chinese social network Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, where the hashtag 'Friends Censored' has been viewed tens of millions of times. Changes have also been made to episodes broadcast by the platforms Bilibili, Tencent, iQiyi, and Youku.

I found that all the dialogues mentioning the homosexuality of Carol, Ross’s ex-wife, were cut out. The cuts are obvious, ' wrote a user whose message received more than 177,000 likes. In recent years, the communist government has stepped up censorship of 'sensitive' topics such as sexuality, violence, or politics, especially in foreign films and series, an attitude that provokes anger and ironic comments from Chinese internet users.

‘Why talk about homosexuality at all? This does not exist here, where eternal perfection reigns. Everyone is happy under this government ', wrote the Weibo user.

But fan criticism was soon deleted from social media, and subversive hashtags on Sunday were replaced by others: ‘Why Friends Are So Popular’.The popular series, which aired in the U.S. from 1994 to 2004, is also very famous and popular in China, where millions of people have watched it on DVD. Many young Chinese say they learned English with the help of 'Friends', which was broadcast uncensored by the Sohu internet portal between 2012 and 2013. It is not known whether the Chinese authorities imposed changes in the episodes of 'Friends'.In 2019, several scenes from the film ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ that talks about the homosexuality of Freddie Mercury, the singer of the band Queen, were also deleted from the version broadcast in China.

Recently, the ending of David Fincher's cult film 'Fight Club' was changed and viewers are served a version according to which 'the police quickly understood the whole plan and arrested all the criminals'. After the displeasure of the viewers, the end of the film was shown again in the original version.