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China Censors ‘Friends,’ To Remove Ross’ Lesbian Wife And Orgasm References
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

Censorship in China is nothing new. The communist country doesn’t allow citizens to consume any type of entertainment they choose – instead, content must be pre-approved by the government. This leads to banning or altering some foreign TV shows and movies.

Chinese fans noticed this happening with the cult-classic NBC sitcom, “Friends,” which is known as “A Chronicle of Old Friends” in their country. The ensemble comedy is follows six single friends navigating young adulthood in New York City. “Friends” isn’t the raunchiest comedy ever made, but it does include some explicit jokes and sexual content.

A few of these details didn’t make it past the censors. Frustrated viewers posted clips to the Chinese social media platform Weibo showing episodes of “Friends” missing scenes or altering language dealing with homosexuality and sex, The Washington Post reported

Specifically, China’s censors appeared to have removed references to Ross’ ex-wife, Carol, being a lesbian. In the original version of the show, many jokes are made about the fact that Carol left Ross for a woman.

There are also instances of Chinese subtitles not matching up with the English dialogue. When Joey recommends that his depressed friend Ross should go to a strip club to help get over his wife leaving, the caption says in Chinese that Joey is telling Ross to “go out and have fun.” In another episode, a reference to “multiple orgasms” is morphed into a conversation about women “having endless gossip.”

Recently, other instances of Chinese censorship of American entertainment have popped up as well. China residents were surprised when the ending of the drama “Fight Club” starring Brad Pitt was completely changed for Chinese audiences. 

In the original version, “Fight Club” ends with massive explosions to solidify the overall anarchistic narrative of the film. But in China’s version, that scene is omitted and replaced with text that reads, “The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.”

Author Chuck Palahniuk, the man who wrote the original novel on which David Fincher’s film version was based, was apparently a fan of the new ending. Palahniuk tweeted a link to his Substack newsletter and said, “Have You Seen This S***? This is SUPER wonderful! Everyone gets a happy ending in China!”

In an interview with The Hollywood reporter, Palahniuk said, “The irony is that the way the Chinese have changed it is they’ve aligned the ending almost exactly with the ending of the book, as opposed to Fincher’s ending, which was the more spectacular visual ending. So in a way, the Chinese brought the movie back to the book a little bit.”

There was so much backlash over the “Fight Club” alteration that censors wound up reinstating 11 out of the 12 minutes that was originally cut. 

It’ll be a waiting game to see if the same thing happens with “Friends.” The Post reported that the sitcom has a huge following in China with multiple fan clubs who all rallied together when the reunion special aired in 2021. 

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