“Pronouns were not yet something I understood.”
friends was, obviously, one of the biggest TV shows of the 1990s — and it’s still plenty beloved today.
Hardcore fans might recall that Chandler Bing had a trans parent who went by the stage name “Helena Handbasket.” The character was eventually played by Kathleen Turner.
When Helena was brought up on the show, characters would frequently refer to her as “Chandler’s father,” misgendering the character as a result. There was even a Season 7 episode titled “The One With Chandler’s Dad.”
Marta Kauffman — who’s also behind TV shows like Grace and Frankie — was the co-creator of friendsand in an upcoming interview she addressed regret for how Helena was misgendered in the show.
While talking to BBC News (via E! News), Marta addressed the fact that the show “kept referring to [Helena] as ‘Chandler’s father,’ even though Chandler’s father was trans.”
“Pronouns were not yet something that I understood, so we didn’t refer to that character as ‘she.’ That was a mistake.”
This isn’t the first time that Marta’s recently expressed regret regarding friends. Last week, she told the Los Angeles Times about her plans to donate $4 million to Brandeis University’s African and African American Studies department as a result of the show’s lack of diverse casting.
“I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years,” she said. “Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago.”
Marta’s interview with BBC News airs July 11. In the meantime, you can read her conversation with the Los Angeles Times here.