“Friends” Co-Creator Martha Kaufman Says It Was a “Mistake” by Chandler’s Trans Parent


More regrets. “Friends” co-creator Martha Kaufman expressed regret over how a trans character was portrayed in the series a few days after she said she was embarrassed by the lack of diversity in the series.

Actors of the TV series “Friends” from season 1 to the present: photos

“We kept calling [Helena] ‘Chandler’s father’ even though Chandler’s father was transgender,” the 65—year-old producer said in an interview with The Conversation program on BBC World Service, which will air on Monday, July 11. “Pronouns were not used. but something I realized is why we didn’t call this character “she”. It was a mistake.”

Kaufman was referring to the character Charles Bing, who used the stage name Helena Handbasket and was played by Kathleen Turner. Helena and Chandler (Matthew Perry) had an awkward relationship on the show after she broke up with Chandler’s mom, Nora (Morgan Fairchild).

Since “Friends”, which also starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc, ended in May 2004, public attitudes towards the portrayal of Helena in the series have changed a lot, and some critics have called the character transphobic. Kaufman, for her part, noted that her own approach to transgender issues has changed a lot over the past decade and a half.

Kathleen Turner and Matthew Perry YouTube

“I really like creating an atmosphere where we have a happy set and a happy crew,” she told the BBC. “It is very important for me that where we are, there is a safe place, a tolerant place where people do not shout. I immediately fired the guy for making a joke about a trans operator. It just can’t be.”

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In 2019, 68-year-old Turner said that she would not have played Helena if she had been offered the role today. “Of course, I wouldn’t do it now, because there will be real people who will do it,” the “Romance with a Stone” actress said during the episode “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” adding that one of the creators David Crane encouraged her to take part. part. “I thought, ‘A woman playing a man playing a woman, I didn’t do that.’ So I said yes.

Last month, Kaufman admitted that she now understands why critics of “Friends” criticize the series for its lack of diversity. “I’ve learned a lot over the last 20 years,” one of Grace and Frankie’s creators told the Los Angeles Times in June. “It is not easy to admit and accept guilt. It hurts to look at yourself in the mirror. I’m ashamed that I didn’t know anything 25 years ago.”

Kathleen Turner YouTube

Having withstood the criticism of the all-white cast of “Friends,” Kaufman decided to donate $4 million to her alma mater, Brandeis University, to establish a professorship in the School’s Department of African and African American Studies.

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The Philadelphia native said she has received “nothing but love” since she announced the donation. “It was amazing,” she told the Times. “I received a stream of emails, texts and posts that had nothing but support. I got a lot of “It’s time”. Not in a bad way. It’s just that people recognize that it was a long time ago.”