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'Friends' Creator Regrets Treatment of Chandler's Transgender Mom

kathleen turner

Friends is still one of the most beloved sitcoms in television history — but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its rough spots.

One of the roughest has to be the treatment of the show’s transgender character, referred to as Chandler’s Dad. Chandler’s Dad, who we met when Chandler and Monica went to Las Vegas, was a trans woman and a drag queen named Helena Handbasket, who was played by Kathleen Turner.

In an interview with The Conversation on the BBC World Service, Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman said it was a “mistake” to call the character Chandler’s “father.” She also added that she was uneducated on trans issues at the time.

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

While Chandler’s mom was played by the beautiful and gorgeous Turner, she was the butt of many transphobic jokes while on the show. The character was dead named, misgendered, and treated as a joke and object of disgust by the main cast, especially Chandler, her son.

Back in 2019, Turner said that if she was offered the role again today, she would turn it down.

“Of course I wouldn’t do it now, because there would be real people able to do it,” Turner said when asked about the role on What What Happens Live with Andy Cohen at the time.

Thankfully, trans depictions on TV have improved by unbelievable leaps and bounds since then, with trans actors getting the roles they deserve and trans characters being treated like the human beings they are.

RELATED | Viktor's Storyline in The Umbrella Academy Season 3 Is a Trans TV Game Changer

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