Friends creator wishes she could change transgender jokes from the iconic sitcom

FRIENDS Pictured: (back l-r) Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, (front l-r) Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay (Photo by Gerald Weinman/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Friends creator Marta Kauffman has admitted she regrets the transgender jokes from the iconic sitcom, and says she wishes she could change them.

In an interview with USA Today, the writer was asked how Friends would be done differently, if made in 2019. She said “I think we didn’t have the knowledge about transgender people back then, so I’m not sure if we used the appropriate terms.

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“I don’t know if I would have known those terms back then. I think that’s the biggest one.”

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 16: Marta Kauffman attends The Paley Center For Media’s 2019 PaleyFest LA – “Grace And Frankie” at Dolby Theatre on March 16, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/WireImage)

In the show, Chandler Bing’s father is a transgender Las Vegas performer, known as Helena Handbasket. Kauffman explained it was this character she was referring to, saying: “Every time I watch an episode, there’s something I wish I could have changed. Like, how did we leave that joke in there? Or, really, that storyline? That’s what we went with?”

She also named The One With The Rumor as an episode she would change. The episode guest stars Brad Pitt, who was at the time married to Friends star Jennifer Aniston who played Rachel Green. Pitt’s character went to school with Rachel, Monica and Ross, and due to his hatred of Rachel, started a rumour she was born a hermaphrodite.

Kauffman added: “I might have not done the hermaphrodite stuff today if I had that to do over in the one with Brad Pitt – in that sense, it really is a period piece.”

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Friends, which ended in 2004, was introduced to a new audience of fans when it began streaming on Netflix in 2017. Set against today’s standards, many felt the show was insensitive it it’s handling of LGBT+ issues, with jokes which many consider homophobic.


Matt Le Blanc, who played Joey, told the BBC after the fallout: “I’ve heard those rumours too about people taking pot shots at Friends, but I don’t want to get into that. I disagree with all that.”