China censors Friends to remove gay storyline

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images)

Episodes of Friends have been censored in China, and could fans be any more upset about it?

The classic sitcom has been edited on streaming platforms in China, most notably to remove a lesbian storyline, CNN reports. In the original version of the show, a key plot involves Ross and his wife Carol getting divorced after she realizes she's gay, and she begins a relationship with another woman. But according to The New York Times, a scene where Ross tells his parents about this is edited in the version of the show available in China so there's no explanation about what led to Ross and Carol's divorce.

There were reportedly numerous other changes made in China to excise suggestive material. For example, according to the Times, a line where Joey suggests going out to a strip club is changed so he instead references "going out to have fun," while CNN reports a line about how women can have "multiple orgasms" is changed to be about women having "endless gossips."

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Friends returned to streaming in China on numerous platforms last week, but fans quickly noticed and objected to the changes, using the hashtag #FriendsCensored to complain on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. But Deadline reports that "at one point, the #FriendsCensored tag itself appeared to be censored, replaced by more positive-sounding tags on Weibo."

The controversy came after it was reported last month that the ending of Fight Club had been changed on the Chinese streaming platform Tencent so that the authorities win, with a newly-added caption explaining that police "arrested all criminals" and prevented a bombing. After the change sparked backlash, the original ending was restored. In November, an episode of The Simpsons referencing the Tiananmen Square massacre was also censored in Hong Kong — and ironically, it was an episode that mocked Chinese censorship.

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