Call it “The One Where Nothing Happens.” The first season of Friends recently appeared on China’s most popular streaming platforms, but with key moments altered to remove references to sex and LGBTQ people. It’s the latest casualty of China’s “national rejuvenation,” in which the Communist Party requires that all media shown in the country “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture, and advanced socialist culture.”

According to The New York Times, this has led to changes that range from abrupt to bizarre. Ross still begins the series newly single, but it’s no longer because his wife has just come out as a lesbian and left him for another woman. There’s a sudden cut during the scene where Ross explains what happened to his parents, and the plot point is never mentioned again.

Other alterations take place in the Chinese subtitles. When Paul the Wine Guy tells Monica about his sexual performance issues, he instead complains of “low spirits.” Joey’s suggestion of visiting a strip club is translated as, “going out to have fun,” and when Rachel quips that gravy boats get her more “turned on” than her fiancé, the subtitles instead say that she’s more “happy to see” tableware.


The Chinese social media platform Weibo has already begun censoring complaints. The hashtag #Friendsdeleted was viewed over 50 million times over the weekend, but now returns no results.

This is not the first time the Communist Party has a taken a chunk out of Friends. The 2021 special Friends: The Reunion was censored for Chinese audiences, and cameos by BTS, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber were removed because they had previously drawn the government’s displeasure.

Last month, a Chinese cut of Fight Club included a new ending where police save the day. The Communist Party has also limited children’s online gaming to three hours a week, barred so-called “sissy men” from television, and removed an episode of The Simpsons that references Tiananmen Square from Disney+ in Hong Kong.