Marta Kauffman, co-creator of Friends, recently sat down with the BBC and had a lot to apologize about. First and foremost, she acknowledged that it was wrong to misgender Chandler’s trans mother as his “father.” The interview is set to release on Monday, but we have a sneak peek into what was said via Fox.
Friends Got Charles Bing All Wrong
“We kept referring to her as Chandler’s father, even though Chandler’s father was trans,” said Kauffman.
“Pronouns were not yet something that I understood,” she said. “So, we didn’t refer to that character as ‘she.’ That was a mistake.”
The Friends co-creator also says that the role should have been filled by a trans woman and not a cisgendered woman. The role of Charles Bing, Chandler’s transgender mother, was filled by Kathleen turner during the show’s ten-year run.
Other faux paus related to the misgendering of Charles Bing’s character include referring to her as “gay” and insinuating that “he” was a drag performer in his spare time.
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Kauffman’s Mistake Mirrored Hollywood Ignorance
Kauffman attributes these mistakes to being misinformed or just a lack of knowledge about what was right or wrong. She also regrets casting so many white characters and not including a more diverse cast. Kauffman says that these practices attest to the inherent and “systemic racism” in Hollywood.
“I was unaware of that, which makes me feel stupid,” Kauffman told the BBC. “That was a very valid, extremely difficult criticism which still… I get emotional about.”
Friends received widespread backlash for its in-your-face white hegemony during the show’s reunion a couple years ago.
But it’s good to see that the times are changing, and people are becoming more conscious of the issues. No one is perfect, but we can certainly always try to be better.