'Friends' Co-Creator Apologizes Over Misgendering Character

Marta Kauffman, who helped create the NBC sitcom, has said there wasn't enough diversity on the show.

Marta Kauffman, co-creator of the hit ’90s sitcom “Friends,” said this week that it was “a mistake” that the show repeatedly misgendered a transgender character.

Kauffman, during an interview on BBC World Service’s “The Conversation,” discussed how the character ― a transgender woman played by Kathleen Turner ― was continually referred to as Chandler’s “father.”

“Pronouns were not yet something that I understood,” Kauffman said. “So we didn’t refer to that character as she. That was a mistake.”

The character, who performs as drag queen Helena Handbasket, first appears in a 2001 episode in which Monica takes Chandler to see his parent’s show.

Turner said during a 2019 appearance on “Watch What Happens Live” that she would turn down the offer to play the role if offered it again.

“Of course, I wouldn’t do it now, because there would be real people able to do it,” Turner said.

In an interview the year prior, Turner said the show didn’t age well and “no one” took it as a serious piece of social commentary, according to Out.

Kauffman, in an interview last month with the Los Angeles Times, apologized for her show’s lack of diversity and pledged $4 million to Brandeis University due to her embarrassment.

“I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years,” Kauffman said.

“Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy,” she continued. “It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago.”

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