Friends Faces Controversy And Backlash After Fans Discover Streaming Censorship

By Erika Hanson | 3 months ago


China is at it again with a fresh new controversy surrounding the nation’s strict censorship regulations in media. The Communist state is known to edit TV shows and films to their liking in an ongoing censorship campaign over the years. Recently, we reported news that one of Brad Pitt’s most memorable movies, Fight Club, had been edited with a new and ludicrous ending. But now, it seems much of the population has reached their limits with the government’s media crackdown, as the nation sets there eyes on expurgating the wildly popular American sitcom, Friends.

The beloved sitcom Friends has become the latest target of China’s censorship campaign, and the awkward cuts have not been missed by fans of the show within the nation. Reuters reported multiple streamers in China including Tencent, Youku, and Bilibili recently began streaming episodes of Friends from season one, which aired nearly 28 years ago in the United States. With countless little edits likely, fans took to the Internet to point out a few of the outlandish changes.

When David Schwimmer’s Ross reveals to his parents that his wife is a lesbian that is leaving him for another woman, the edits completely cut out Ross’ revelation, simply cutting the scene to his parent’s shocked faces. Another scene depicted Matt LeBlanc’s Joey suggesting the group go to a strip club. But after the episode aired in China, the edits changed the character’s words to instead suggest the Friends group should go out and “play” instead.

In another incident, Paul the Wine Guy reveals to Courtney Cox’s Monica that he hasn’t been able to perform sexually. The subtitles on the Chinese streaming services, however, stated the character said he was simply in “low spirits”. Lastly, Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel apparently had too much sex appeal on the series, as the new edits depicted her as “happy” to see tableware in a scene when in all actuality, the character was lamenting she was more turned on by the tables gravy boat than her own fiancé. 


The edits and cuts were ridiculously amusing, considering how little effort the government puts into refinishing the scenes. However, the principle of the outlandish cuts is the more important aspect and reasoning for the outcry from many fans of Friends in the Chinese nation. Calling out the censorship, the Chinese superfans mocked the prude manner in which the government handled the sitcom. Bellowing the government for reinforcing gender stereotypes by cutting any and all LGBTQ content, many took to Twitter with the hashtag #friendshasbeencensored. With the Communist nation acting swiftly, the hashtag currently yields no results on Twitter. 

Remaining one of the most widespread popular sitcoms to date, Friends humor and social themes showcased through the series’ ten season run often pushed the limits of what was allowed on primetime TV–even if a rewatch in today’s era might seem tame compared to some of the dark and raunchy humor out there. Similarly, this isn’t the first time the beloved sitcom has had to “pivot” around the Chinese government. When the anticipated Friends reunion aired on HBO last May, the Chinese government reportedly ended up editing quite a bit of the reunion special from airing in the country.