Chinese viewers of U.S. sitcom Friends have expressed their dismay online at the censorship of recently released episodes, which included LGBT issues.
Several Chinese streaming sites including Tencent (0700.HK), Baidu IQiyi Inc IQ.O, Alibaba's Youku and Bilibili (9626.6HK) started to show a version from the first season on Friday. This was the first re-release of the show in China for many years.
Fans soon began to notice that parts of the show's long-running run were not the same as they had seen in the past and complained about censorship. This included the removal of trans-related content and mistranslations.
One example was the deletion of a conversation in that Ross, the main character, stated that his wife was a lesbian.
Another scene, in which Joey suggested Joey go to a strip joint, was translated to "go out to watch" by Tencent Video. These changes were confirmed by Reuters in the Tencent version.
China has closed thousands of social media accounts and websites that were containing illegal content, as well as pornographic and "vulgar" material in recent years.
One user from China's Twitter-like Weibo said, "I resolutely protest the castrated version 'Friends'."
Another said, "This is a defiling of a classic."
Another user stated that "if you cannot show the complete version in the current atmosphere, don't import."
This was a topic that was very popular on Weibo Sunday.
But in a sign the discussion itself may have caught the attention of censors, searches on Weibo on Sunday for several variations on the hashtag or search term #Friendshasbeencensored produced either zero or limited recent results
China has a large fan base for "Friends". After the original 10-season hit show aired in 1990, many watched it pirated on DVDs and downloaded.
SOHU TV, a Chinese streaming service, purchased the broadcast rights to the show. However, this ended in 2018, according to company.