The one with the very tasteless joke: Friends creator admits regrets over how the show portrayed Chandler’s transgender dad – and reveals what she’d change about Brad Pitt’s cameo
- Co-creator Marta Kauffman, 62, spoke about Friends episodes ahead of the 15th year anniversary for the series finale
- She confessed to thinking the jokes about Chandler Bing’s father now fall flat
- ‘I think we didn’t have the knowledge about transgender people,’ she said
- Chandler’s dad was mentioned to participate in cross-dressing and drag
- It wasn’t until later that the writers confessed to the dad being transgender
The co-creator of Friends revealed one joke she would take out of the popular sitcom today if she had the choice — just days before the 15th anniversary of the series finale.
Marta Kauffman created the sitcom alongside David Crane for its 10-year run starting in 1994. Although Kauffman, 62, said she was rather proud of the jokes and most of the episodes in the show, she admitted one joke, in particular, fell flat.
‘I think we didn’t have the knowledge about transgender people back then, so I’m not sure if we used the appropriate terms,’ she told USA Today ahead of the finale anniversary.
Speaking out: Co-creator Marta Kauffman, 62, spoke about Friends episodes ahead of the 15th year anniversary for the series finale
Regrets: She confessed to thinking the jokes about Chandler Bing’s father (pictured right, played by Kathleen Turner), who was said to be a crossdresser and drag queen, now fall flat
‘I don’t know if I would have known those terms back then,’ Kauffman continued. ‘I think that’s the biggest one.’
Kauffman later clarified she was speaking specifically about the jokes surrounding Chandler Bing’s dad.
Change in perspective: ‘I think we didn’t have the knowledge about transgender people back then, so I’m not sure if we used the appropriate terms,’ Kauffman (pictured) said
On the show, Chandler, played by Matthew Perry, makes jokes about his father, Charles Bing.
The father was pegged as a crossdresser and would even perform as a drag queen.
It wasn’t until years after the show aired that the show creators confessed to Charles Bing, played by Kathleen Turner, actually being transgender and going through a transition from a man to a woman.
Jokes surrounding the father focused on the character’s choice to wear dresses, other characters having difficulty using correct pronouns, and some lines referring to the father’s genitalia.
How the ’90s show handled LGBTQ topics has been one of the biggest criticisms its faced in recent years.
Chandler, in particular, has been accused of making a homophobic remarks.
In one episode, Chandler fears people think he is gay and becomes insecure about how he handles situations. Some viewers have referenced that episode as promoting homophobic views.
In terms of favorite episodes, Kauffman revealed she always enjoyed the Thanksgiving ones each year to celebrate the holiday.
Brad Pitt was a guest on one of the Thanksgiving episodes back when both he and Jennifer Aniston were still together — but one of the jokes no longer settles with the co-creator.
‘I might have not done the hermaphrodite stuff today if I had that to do over in the one with Brad Pitt (The One with the Rumor),’ she said.
During the episode, Pitt’s character is mad at Aniston’s character, Rachel, because he remembers her from high school while she does not. Pitt admits to telling everyone in their high school that Rachel was a hermaphrodite out of spite.
Kauffman, who now is the co-creator of Grace and Frankie, confessed the same joke would probably not serve in the episode if it were created in today’s age.
Her revelations come after she finally watched the show again from a hotel room five years ago. Previously, she avoided viewing the sitcom.
‘There was a lot I liked, and there was all that stuff I just couldn’t believe we let get in there,’ the writer said.
Although there are jokes from the Friends that no longer land like they used to, there is no doubt the show’s impact on pop culture as it remains one of the most popular sitcoms of all time.
Friends had a resurgence in popularity after Netflix started streaming the sitcom on its website in 2015.
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