Kathleen Turner pitches into the Friends debate: ‘It didn’t age well’

Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) with Helena (Kathleen Turner)

Friends actor Kathleen Turner has pitched into the debate that Friends was problematic in the way it approached LGBTQ issues.

Turner, who played Chandler’s dad on the show, has said that she doesn’t think the famed sitcom “aged well”.

“It was a 30-minute sitcom. It became a phenomenon, but no one ever took it seriously as a social comment,” she told the Gay Times.

Turner’s character was at odds with her son throughout the series because Chandler refused to accept her identity.

Kathleen Turner (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

He often used the dead name “Charles” for his father rather than “Helena Handbasket”.

While it was never directly addressed that Chandler’s dad was transgender, co-creator Marta Kauffman did later confirm that Helena Handbasket was a trans woman.

The Academy Award-winning actor went on to explain that playing the role was groundbreaking in the mid 90’s.

She said: “How they approached with me with it was, ‘Would you like to be the first woman playing a man playing a woman?’ I said yes, because there weren’t many drag/trans people on television at the time.”


Turner added that many viewers “thought Charles was just dressing up”.

Turner’s comments come after Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey Tribbiani, defended the sitcom from claims that it is “homophobic” and “anti-trans”.

Speaking to the BBC, he said that he had heard the “rumours about people taking pot shots at Friends” but that he “disagrees with all that”.
“On Top Gear we tend to steer clear of any sort of political content, nothing too topical.

“On Friends, we steered clear of that kind of thing, too. Friends was about themes that stand the test of time – trust, love, relationships, betrayal, family and things like that,” he added.


Accusations of the show being problematic with it’s approach to LGBTQ and women’s rights came after the show launched on Netflix last month.

Viewers took to Twitter in swarms to complain about the controversial storylines that litter the ten seasons.

One of the ongoing plots that had slipped many people’s minds is Chandler’s relationship with his dad, who is transgender.

Chandler refuses to recognise her gender identity, using the dead name “Charles” rather than “Helena Handbasket”.


He also pretends to become physically sick when they go to watch her perform on stage.

People also took aim at Ross, who berates his son Ben for playing with a Barbie doll and assumes that the male nanny hired by Rachel is gay.

The show also ran a long-running storyline which joked that Chandler is gay, making him the butt of the joke.

A video featuring all the homophobic moments lasts a whopping 50 minutes.