Source: NYT (2/14/22)
‘Friends’ in China: Look for The One Where Ross’s Ex-Wife Isn’t Gay
The popular sitcom has become the latest target of China’s censorship campaign. The awkward cuts have not been missed by fans of the show in the country.
By Alexandra Stevenson
Cast members of Friends — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc — in a scene from “Friends: The Reunion.” Credit…Terence Patrick/HBO Max, via Associated Press
HONG KONG — The wildly popular sitcom “Friends” is back on China’s best-known streaming services, but with some big changes to the script.
In the latest Chinese version, when Ross tells his parents he has split from his wife, he doesn’t explain the reason: She is a lesbian living with another woman, is now pregnant and plans to raise the baby with her partner. Instead, the scene simply cuts to his parents’ stunned faces, and the plotline ends there.
There are other, more subtle changes to the show, too.
Joey’s suggestion of a trip to a strip club is translated in Chinese subtitles as “going out to have fun.” When Paul the Wine Guy tells Monica, “I haven’t been able to, uh, perform sexually,” the subtitle says that he has been in “low spirits.” A lament by Rachel that she is more “turned on” by a gravy boat than her fiancé is translated as Rachel being more “happy to see” tableware.
The changes have prompted biting commentary on social media from the show’s many Chinese superfans, who mocked the prudishness of censors and said the alterations reinforced gender stereotypes. Continue reading