‘Friends' Fans in China Complain of Censorship After LGBTQ Plotline Axed

“The edit-out is so over the top, and I will not watch it anymore,” said Benjamin Zhao, 22, a student in Hong Kong

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Chinese fans of the TV sitcom “Friends” are complaining of censorship after noticing changes in a version of the show newly released in mainland China, including the removal of an LGBTQ storyline. 

Most noticeably, they said, the show is missing scenes and dialogue that refer to the sexuality of Ross’s ex-wife, Carol, who is a lesbian. In the show’s first episodes, Ross learns that Carol is pregnant and that she plans to raise the child with her female partner, Susan. 

“Friends” has a huge following in China, where it has informed several generations’ understanding of the United States and helped many learn English. The first season of the show, which aired on NBC for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004, was re-released last Friday by major Chinese streaming platforms including Tencent, Baidu’s iQiyi, Alibaba’s Youku and Bilibili. 

Fans complained that some subtitles had been changed to avoid sexual innuendo, and that the cuts had in some cases made the plot incoherent.

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