«That was a mistake,» says Friends’ co-creator about one of the characters

Friends remains a go-to comfort watch for many fans, even though the sitcom ended over 20 years ago — just look back at last year’s group reunion, which was seen by a stunning 29% of streaming homes in the United States, according to Variety. Despite the show’s widespread success, viewers have regularly pointed out problematic clichés, quotations, and plots throughout its 10-season run, ranging from a lack of diversity to numerous jokes about Monica’s weight.

Marta Kauffman, who co-created Friends with David Crane, is now addressing another resentment from the tv show: the treatment of one of Chandler Bing’s parents, Helena Handbasket, played by Kathleen Turner. Kauffman talked about the character in an interview with BBC World Service’s The Conversation, which will air on July 11.

«We continued referring to [Helena] as’ Chandler’s father, ‘even though Chandler’s father was trans,» Kauffman told Radio Times during the show’s first run. «Because I didn’t understand pronouns at the time, we didn’t refer to that character as’ she.'» That was a blunder.

One example of Helena’s on-screen treatment? She meets her prospective daughter-in-parents, the law’s Jack and Judy Geller, in Season 7’s «The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding.» Jack claims to have «never seen one before» and is soon led away. «I didn’t even get a chance to pretend as if I was fine with it.» Helena’s ex similarly dismissively refers to her as «Charles.»

Turner, for one, has voiced sorrow for the persona in recent years. Despite the fact that the Body Heat actor told Gay Times that she took the part «since there weren’t many drag/trans individuals on television at the time,» she admitted that «many believed Charles was simply dressing up» and not a trans character.

Kauffman’s remarks came only days after she apologized for another «long overdue» issue of variety on Friends—the lack of black characters. In a June 29 interview with the Los Angeles Times, the producer revealed her desire to donate $4 million to Brandeis University, her alma school, to establish an endowed chair in African and African American studies. «In the previous 20 years, I’ve learnt a lot,» Kauffman told the magazine. It is difficult to admit and accept responsibility. Looking in the mirror is excruciating. I’m sorry I didn’t know better twenty-five years ago. «

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