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TV author Marta Kauffman, co-creator and executive producer of the famous 1990s sitcom Friends, said it was “a mistake” to use the masculine pronoun to refer to the character of “Chandler’s dad.” In the sit-com Charles Bing is the name with which Chandler’s parent is indicated, one of the six protagonists of the series: it is known that he performs in a show drag of Las Vegas under the name of Helena Handbasket, but it is never explicitly clarified whether it is one drag queen or a transgender woman, as suggested by the fact that she appears in women’s clothes even on an occasion not related to her performances, that is, the marriage of her child.
In an interview given to a television program by BBCwhich will air on July 11, Kauffman said however that:
“We kept referring to her as Chandler’s father, even though Chandler’s father was trans.”
The character of “Chandler’s dad” was played by American actress Kathleen Turner, who is a cisgender woman and was best known in the 1980s and 1990s for films such as Warm shiver (1981), The garden of virgin suicides (1999) and Peggy Sue got married (1986), for which she earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. In the series, her character is teased on many occasions by the protagonists, who regularly talk about her with shame or embarrassment and some confusion about her gender identity: in particular, they refer to her using masculine pronouns and calling her “father” or ” dad ”, with an attitude that today would be more easily recognized as transphobic.
The transgender woman character appears in only three episodes at the end of the seventh season, which aired in 2001, including the two in which Chandler’s wedding to his fiancée Monica Geller is celebrated.
In the first episode, Chandler and Monica are in the venue where the show is held drag to announce their engagement. In the Italian translation, which is not very far from the original version, Monica says: “If we had called your father we could have had better places. ”Chandler replies,“ I don’t want him to know we’re here yet. I don’t know if I’m ready, and then neither he he will be happy to see me ». He then adds that in the past “he he had tried to contact me [Chandler] many times »in recent years and« it was also came in New York, ”but Chandler had always said he was busy.
In the next episode, at the pre-wedding reception, Monica’s father introduces himself to Chandler’s mother, Nora, asking, “Are you his mother or are you his father?” Reprimanded by his wife, he exclaims: «What is it? I have never seen a transvestite before now”.
Turner’s character enters the scene shortly thereafter. Chandler says with some hesitation “Hi … Pope“, While Monica, embarrassed,” Hello, Mr Bing “. Nora, her ex-wife, addresses her as “Charles”.
In the interview given to BBC, Kauffman said that the issue of pronouns (masculine, feminine, or neuter) that people want to be used to address them at the time “was not yet” something she understood, and that she didn’t have much awareness about trans people. , «So we didn’t speak of that character as a ‘she’». “It was a mistake,” she added, explaining that criticism of the way the situation was handled still makes her feel embarrassed today.
Kauffman also admitted that, among other things, the show was not given enough space to African American people, claiming that she was “clearly part of the systemic racism” that has characterized and in some ways continues to characterize television and film.
Turner, on the other hand, had commented negatively on the way the character he played in was portrayed Friends already a few years ago. In an interview given to the British magazine Gay Times in 2018, Turner She said that if she was offered that role again she would turn it down so that a trans woman could play it. He also said that there were other things in the series that had aged not very well, such as the confusion about whether he was a transgender person, who was often confused with a drag queen or described as gay: “Yeah, people thought Charles did. he was just dressing up, ”he commented.
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