Friends has joined the growing list of media being censored in China.
Multiple episodes of the U.S. sitcom have been censored across several Chinese streaming platforms, including Bilibili, Youku, and Tencent. LGBTQ+ themes and sexual conversations have been deleted. This coincides with the People’s Republic of China’s law against media that depicts “unnormal sexual relationships,” specifically those that fall under LGBTQ+. (via Deadline (opens in new tab))
Season one was re-released via Chinese streaming sites on Friday. Viewers were quick to point out that a brief scene where Ross (David Schwimmer) shares that his ex-wife Carol (Anita Barone and Jane Sibbett) is a lesbian was removed from the episode. In other instances, Chinese subtitles have also been changed to reflect a more G-rated theme: in a scene where Joey (Matt LeBlanc) suggests going to a strip club in order to heal his broken heart, the English dialogue translates to “go out and have fun.”
Back in 2019, scenes from the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemia Rhapsody premiered in China with all references to the singer’s sexuality and AIDS diagnosis completely cut from the film. In 2021, an episode of The Simpsons where the cartoon family visits China, specifically the site of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, was deleted from Disney Plus entirely. Most recently, Tencent changed the ending of David Fincher’s Fight Club to one where the police foil Tyler Durden/The Narrator’s plans and stop the city from exploding altogether. The original ending was restored after online backlash.
Friends is currently streaming in all of its uncensored glory on HBO Max. For the best HBO Max prices and deals, check out our handy guide and start streaming today.