China censors 'F.R.I.E.N.D.S' reunion episode; no Lady Gaga, BTS, Bieber
F.R.I.E.N.D.S reunion special had left fans with tears of joy across the world. However, viewers in China were in for a disappointment. Apparently, the version streamed in China was around six minutes shorter than the original. Moreover, appearances of Justin Bieber, BTS, Lady Gaga, and a few LGBTQ+ fans were cut out from the special episode by Chinese video streamers iQiyi, Tencent, and Youku.
American singer-songwriter Lady Gaga met with the Dalai Lama in 2016. This irked Chinese officials because they consider him a figurehead for Tibetan separatism. The Bad Romance singer has since been banned from touring in China. Her appearance in the special episode is one of the most favorite loved scenes as she joined Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe, to sing the Smelly Cat song.
Global superstar Justin Bieber dressed up as Spudnik - a punny potato costume that Ross wore in a Halloween episode. To recall, the Canadian pop star posted a photo of himself visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which pays tribute to many Japanese war criminals, back in 2014. Like Gaga, he is also banned from performing in China for his alleged "bad behavior."
RM, the leader of the South Korean boy band BTS, talked about the pain they shared with the United States during the Korean War in a speech. His remarks fired up social media users in China as Beijing backed the North in that war. In the uncut F.R.I.E.N.D.S reunion, the band appeared for just 13 seconds to speak about their love for the show.
Chinese streamers also censored several LGBTQ+ references. This included a testimony by Ricardo, a gay German fan, who spoke about how much the series meant to him and how watching it gave him a sense of belonging. In another instance, a woman pulled her girlfriend towards her and says, "Like every Chandler, I found my Monica." Those 10 seconds were also edited out.
Not just the ones mentioned, but several other scenes were censored in the Chinese version. A moment where the cast reminisces about a funny scene referencing urine was removed by the Chinese streaming companies. Another shot was edited out from an old episode where Matt LeBlanc's character Joey shows off his underwear with a picture of Ross in front of it.