The one where China cut the guest stars out of the Friends reunion
Chinese viewers got a different show, and theyre none too pleased about it.Those watching the much-anticipated Friends cast reunion special in China got a different, shorter experience than was aired elsewhere.
Viewers in China were treated to a censored version of HBO Max‘s hour and 44-minute reunion of the ’90s sitcom’s cast, one which lacked guest appearances from Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, K-pop supergroup BTS or references to the LGBTQ community or urine.
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The three Chinese streaming platforms with broadcast rights for Friends: The Reunion — iQIYI, Youku and Tencent Video — all aired differently altered versions. IQIYI’s version was the shortest, with at least six minutes cut, followed by Tencent Video’s roughly five minutes and then Youku’s, which cut about four minutes of footage, the BBC reported.
Whether the platforms decided to cut the celebrities and references in anticipation of censorship or were following a government censorship directive is unclear, the broadcaster noted.
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Gaga, Bieber and BTS have all become verboten in China for various past political incidents.
For Gaga, who performed the cafe tune “Smelly Cat” alongside Lisa Kudrow in the special, the controversial incident was meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2016, an act which Chinese authorities considered support for Tibetan separatism, leading to her being banned from touring in China.
Bieber, meanwhile, is banned for “bad behaviour.” BTS became controversial in the country after the boy band’s leader made comments about the Korean War which stoked anger on Chinese social media.
Friends has a huge fanbase in China, and many viewers of the censored versions took to various online platforms to express their deep upset at not being allowed to view the full cut of the special.
“This is insane, if you introduce the show to China, don’t cut the scene. If you have to cut it, then don’t introduce it. What’s the point of eating this castrated content?” one fan wrote, according to the New York Times.
“Help! Are we never going to move on and change? This will just make me want to find out more about the cut scenes,” one user commented on the platform Weibo, according to the BBC.
Friends: The Reunion is available to watch on BINGE. To watch the special or the other 236 episodes of Friends, visit Binge.com.au
New customers get a two-week free trial.
This article originally appeared on The New York Post and was reproduced with permission.