Friends’ Marta Kauffman On Chandler’s Trans Parent

“Pronouns were not yet something I understood.”

Friends It was, obviously, one of the biggest TV shows of the 1990s — and it’s still plenty beloved today.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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

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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.

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Brandeis is Marta’s alma mater.

“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.”

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Marta’s interview with BBC News airs July 11. In the meantime, you can read her conversation with the Los Angeles Times here.

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