Ross' Wife Is Gay? China's Censors Won't Hear of It

Fans of 'Friends' cry foul after detail is cut from episode
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2022 10:00 AM CST
Censors in China Tweak Friends Storyline
This image shows David Schwimmer as Ross in a scene from the "Friends" reunion special.   (Terence Patrick/HBO Max via AP)

China's censors are back in the news, this time over an episode of Friends. When Ross explains to his parents that his wife has left him, the part in which he explains why—she's lesbian and has found a female partner—was cut from a recently aired rerun, reports the New York Times. But as the Guardian notes, the show is wildly popular in China, and the omission drew all kinds of scorn and ridicule on social media. "Covering your mouth and ears does not mean non-existence," is how one user put it. However, even the widespread criticism was eventually replaced with a "why is Friends so popular" hashtag.

The Times and the BBC note some other tweaks: A mention of a visit to a strip club is subtitled instead as "going out to have fun," a character who mentions trouble performing sexually instead talks only about being in "low spirits," and a reference to "multiple orgasms" is changed to "endless gossips." China's censors previously took flak for altering the end of Fight Club (to tamp down the anarchy) and for removing references to homosexuality in a Freddie Mercury biopic. In fact, the government in Beijing under Xi Jinping appears to be particularly worried about gay characters—it recently banned "sissy men" from the national airwaves. (More China stories.)

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