‘Friends’ reunion gets censored in China with BTS, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber scenes axed

Lisa Kudrow and Lady Gaga on Friends: The Reunion
Lisa Kudrow and Lady Gaga on Friends: The Reunion Image Credit: HBO Max

It looks like Lady Gaga’s rendition of ‘Smelly Cat’ raised a stink in China with her segment from the ‘Friends’ reunion special getting the axe in the final cut.

Gaga wasn’t the only one who didn’t pass muster with the censors. Justin Bieber, who appeared on the show channeling Ross Geller’s Halloween costume ‘Spud-nik’, was also chopped from the final version that aired in the country, along with K-pop group BTS who reminisced their memories of growing up on a diet of ‘Friends’.

The reunion special aired globally on May 27, including the UAE, reuniting the characters of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe 17 years after the sitcom went off air and played over 100 billion times across television reruns and streaming platforms.

While no details on why those particular scenes were cut from the final edit, Gaga has angered China in the past for meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Bieber has also drawn attention for posting a photo of the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honours those who died in Japan’s war, including war criminals. Meanwhile, BTS has reportedly adopted a lifestyle that may not be conducive with the censors.

Irrespective of the censorship, ‘Friends: The Reunion’, has proven to be a hit if social media chatter is anything to go by.

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Friends Reunion Special – Photography by Terence Patrick Image Credit: AP

The six stars — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer — served as executive producers on the one-off special, which saw the return to the original soundstage at the Warner Bros. lot that was re-created to resemble Monica’s NYC apartment, along with recreations of the apartment that Chandler and Joey lived in across the landing and the Central Perk coffee house where the gang hung out.

The iconic NBC sitcom aired from 1994 through 2004 with the series finale being watched by 52 million people, one of the most-viewed TV finales ever. The reunion marked the first time the cast was together in a room once again.

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Friends: The Reunion Image Credit: Terence Patrick/HBO Max

The special saw some emotional moments, along with some elements of surprise with Aniston and Schwimmer revealing they crushed on each other all through the first few seasons but never acted on it due to circumstances. The chemistry was pooled into the Ross and Rachel romance that teased fans all through to the finale when they finally get their happy ending.