The one with the censorship! Chinese Friends fans are left outraged after country’s streaming services REMOVE references to LGBTQ communities and cut cameos by Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and BTS in reunion special

  • Friends reunion special was released across the world on Thursday
  • Three Chinese streaming services secured rights to the 104 minute show, but all censored out certain references and guest stars
  • Lady Gaga’s cameo was cut from the Chinese editions; the singer earned the ire of Chinese officials after she met with the Dalai Lama in 2016
  • Justin Bieber’s brief appearance was also removed; he has been banned from the country since 2017 due to his ‘bad behavior’ 
  • Korean pop group BTS were similarly censored and references to the LGBTQ communities disappeared
  • China has become an increasingly important market for Hollywood producers, but their government is all-too-happy to censor controversial content 

Chinese viewers have been left outraged after three of their country’s streaming services censored the highly-anticipated Friends reunion. 

Services iQIYI, Youku and Tencent Video all acquired streaming rights for the blockbuster TV special, which was released worldwide on Thursday. 

While fans in other markets were treated to the full 104 minute show, the editions released in China were all significantly shorter.   

The services cut guest appearances by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and South Korean boyband BTS. They also removed references to the LGBTQ community, according to The New York Times. 

It is currently unclear whether the broadcasts were censored due to a directive from the Chinese government.  

The show is beloved by Chinese millennials – many of whom used the show to learn English, according to The Times. 

Many of them took to Chinese social media to blast the streaming services for the censorship, with one writing: ‘This is insane, if you introduce the show to China, don’t cut the scene. If you have to cut it, then don’t introduce it. What’s the point of eating this castrated content?’

Chinese viewers have been left outraged after three of their country’s streaming services censored the highly-anticipated Friends reunion. The cast are seen in the special which was released around the world on Thursday

Cut out in China!  Lady Gaga made a cameo appearance on the Friends reunion special by singing a rendition of ‘Smelly Cat’. It was not featured on the Chinese special 

Lady Gaga is currently banned from touring in China after she angered the country’s officials by meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2016. 

The pop icon made a cameo appearance on the Friends reunion special by singing a rendition of ‘Smelly Cat’ – a song made famous by Lisa Kudrow’s character, Phoebe.  

Meanwhile, Justin Bieber has been banned from China since 2017. 

He angered officials from the communist country back in 2014 after he posted a photo of himself at a shrine honoring Japanese military leaders. The two countries have long had a hostile relationship. 

Bieber’s bad boy antics – including his reported visit to a Brazilian brothel – earned him further disapproval from the Chinese government. 

China’s culture bureau released a statement in 2017 revealing that the pop star was no longer welcome in the country, saying: ‘In order to maintain order in the Chinese market and purify the Chinese performance environment, it is not suitable to bring in badly behaved entertainers’.

BTS also angered Chinese officials when they last year spoke of South Korea’s shared ‘history of pain’ with the United States over the Korean War. 

China supported North Korea during the three-year conflict which lasted from 1950 – 1953. 

Justin Bieber has been banned from China since 2017. His appearance was cut from the Friends reunion special 

Cut from the show: BTS also angered Chinese officials when they last year spoke of South Korea’s shared ‘history of pain’ with the United States over the Korean War

The Chinese market has become increasingly important to Hollywood producers over the past decade, but the country’s government is all-too-happy to censor actors and productions that are critical of their politics. 

Earlier this week, actor John Cena was slammed by Chinese officials after he inadvertently waded into a political dispute when promoting his new movie, Fast & Furious 9. 

The star said on Taiwanese television that Taiwan would be ‘the first country’ to see the new film. 

The seemingly-innocent remark angered Chinese officials, who do not consider Taiwan an independent nation. 

Cena, feeling the heat of the criticism from Chinese fans, recorded an apology video which he released on Tuesday on Weibo, where he has 600,000 followers.

He groveled: ‘Hi China, I’m John Cena… I made one mistake… I love and respect China and Chinese people. I’m very, very sorry about my mistake.’ 

He was slammed as ‘pathetic’ and ‘spineless’ for the message, which critics say is just the latest example of Hollywood and big business bowing to China for fear of retaliation

Last year, Pen America – a free speech organization based in New York – issued a damning report about how Hollywood had been repeatedly bowing to pressure from China for fear of losing out on the money it represents for the industry. 


Earlier this week, actor John Cena was slammed by Chinese officials after he inadvertently waded into a political dispute when promoting his new movie, Fast & Furious 9 

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