CHINA has censored Friends to remove lesbian jokes and sexually suggestive punchlines amid a crackdown on ‘immoral content’, prompting millions to complain.
Fans of the popular TV comedy were left outraged that Chinese streaming services moved to overwrite the original episodes.
Streaming services including Bilibili, Tencent, Youku, Sohu and iQiyi began playing the show in China on February 11 after the Friends: The Reunion episode proved popular.
But parts of the storyline which revolve around same-sex relationships have been changed.
Scenes from the first episode which feature Ross discussing with Joey if he knew his ex-wife, Carol Willock, was a lesbian have reportedly been deleted.
In the series, Carol leaves Ross for Susan Bunch but parts of the plot have been tweaked.
Other conversations that were sexually suggestive were also edited out, local insiders claim.
In one episode, which played via Sohu, Ross was debating men and woman’s advantages with his friends when he said females are able to have “multiple orgasms”
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The most recent version has been altered for the subtitle to read “women have endless gossips” with the original dialogue.
Outrage erupted on social media with viewers angry the originals have been censored.
Frustrated audiences posted #FriendsCensored on microblogging website Weibo.
The hashtag raked up more than 54 millions hits today but within hours had been pulled down.
The platform cited the topic was no longer being shown “according to relevant laws and regulations”, CNN reported.
A Weibo user said: “Not only does it ignore women’s sexual desire and enjoyment, but also reinforces the gender stereotype of women.”
China has been cracking down on television and film to monitor its control of content that exaggerates “the dark side of society”.
‘VULGAR & UNHEALTHY’
New guidelines issued in 2016 state that media which shows gay relationships, homosexuality, extramarital affairs, one-night stands and underage love are off-limits.
The eight-page document referenced the content as “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy”.
In 2016, China issued new guidelines saying television shows shouldn’t include story lines involving gay relationships, as well as other topics that “exaggerate the dark side of society”.
The eight-page document referenced “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content” and deemed homosexuality, extramarital affairs, one-night stands and underage love as being off-limits.
It comes after Disney’s Winnie the Pooh film was banned in China after the nation’s leader was compared to the dopey bear.
Attempts to search for the much loved character on Weibo then generated the message “content is illegal”.
The episode of The Simpsons where the family visits Tiananmen Square was also ditched from Disney+, the New York Post reported.