Friends Creator Marta Kauffman Has A Major Regret About Kathleen Turner's Character

It's a TV classic, but "Friends" sure hasn't been without controversy. "Friends" co-creator Marta Kauffman has said that it was a "mistake" to refer to Chandler's transgender parent as his "father."

"We kept referring to [Chandler's transgender parent] as 'Chandler's father', even though Chandler's father was trans," she told the BBC.

"Friends" debuted in 1994 – long before pronouns had entered popular lingo. But now, the almost 30-year-old show is being reconsidered by its creators in light of current discourse. And thankfully, it looks as though they want to do better. It took until the end of "Friends" Season 7 to introduce "Chandler's Dad" — the show's only transgender character. And even then, it wasn't exactly perfect.

"Pronouns were not yet something that I understood," said Kauffman. "So, we didn't refer to that character as 'she'. That was a mistake."

You can see it throughout the show, with the character often casually misgendered by the rest of our favorite New Yorkers, and commonly referred to as Mr. Bing by Monica, and even "Dad Ma'am" by Chandler himself. It's something that screams intolerance in today's landscape but went unremarked upon when the show first aired. And Kauffman wasn't the first to notice how cringey it seems today.

Kathleen Turner wouldn't play the role today

Amazingly, the role of "Chandler's dad" was played by Oscar-nominated actress, Kathleen Turner — the voice of Jessica Rabbit in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" amongst many other film and TV credits. But Kathleen turner herself admitted she wouldn't accept the role today

"Of course, I wouldn't do it [today] because there would be real people able to do [the part]," she explained in an interview with Andy Cohen. "At the time, one of the co-creators ... We were doing a show based on Tallulah Bankhead. And he came up to see the show in San Francisco and came backstage and said: 'You have to play Chandler's dad'. And I thought: 'OK, a woman playing a man playing a woman. I haven't done that.' So, I said 'yes.'"

Although the character was often referenced throughout the show, it wasn't until the episode "The One With Chandler's Dad" that they made an appearance on screen. And in the last few years, this appearance has come under increased scrutiny with fans often citing the episode as problematic and potentially transphobic. But now, Kauffman, who also created the hit Netflix comedy "Grace and Frankie," strives for a more inclusive workplace. As she explained: 

"I like very much to create an environment where we have a happy set and a happy crew. It's very important to me that where we are is a safe place, a tolerant place, where there's no yelling. I fired a guy on the spot for making a joke about a trans cameraperson. That just can't happen."

Kauffman recently made headlines for donating $4 million after feeling guilty for the show's lack of diversity and representation.