Friends creators apologise for transphobia
Chandler's mum deserved more...
words Team Woo
As pleasurable a nostalgia-watch Friends can be, it's littered with problematic turns of phrases and meanness. And that's something its creators are finally wising up to, as they took the time this week to apologise for their representation - or misrepresentation - of Chandler's mum.
Played by husky-voiced Kathleen Turner - who is not trans and has recently said she wouldn't take the role again knowing what she knows now about trans representation - Chandler's parent was presented as "Chandler's dad" and was ridiculed by her son while she performed at a drag cabaret show.
Marta Kauffman, one of masterminds behind Friends, was on a BBC podcast when she explained that misgendering Chandler's mother "was a mistake" but was made in part because, well, things were a lot different 25 years ago. “Pronouns were not yet something that I understood. So we didn’t refer to that character as ‘she'”. Instead, the character was referred to as "he", "daddy", "dad", "Charles" and, well, even though the character - whose drag name was Helena Handbasket - gave as good as she got when it came to a lowdown with her ex - the woman Chandler grew up calling "mom" - she was still mocked for being what we now understand as trans.
Things have, thankfully, moved well on, as Kauffman is such a trans ally that during the filming of her current show, Grace and Frankie she “fired a guy on the spot for making a joke about a Trans cameraperson”.