After 10 seasons, NBC’s “Friends” came to a close in 2004 with one of its central couples, Chandler Bing and Monica Geller, adopting twins and moving out of New York and into the suburbs.
In a new video report, Baume ― who is the author of the 2015 book “Defining Marriage” and the host of “Culture Cruise,” an acclaimed YouTube series ― delves into thinly sourced but persistent reports that the creators of “Friends” had intended for Chandler to be a gay man, but changed him to a straight character after Perry was cast. He also breaks down a number of gay jokes ― many of them cringeworthy by modern standards ― presented in the show at the character’s expense as evidence of a defunct plot line.
Speculation about Chandler’s sexuality can be traced back to the show’s earliest seasons. In a 1996 interview with Entertainment Weekly during Season 2, co-creator and executive producer David Crane dismissed such arguments. “No, Chandler isn’t gay,” he said at the time. “Nor will he be gay. It’s not as if he has a choice. He either is or he isn’t. And he happens not to be.”
Many fans, however, remained unconvinced. And Perry’s co-star Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe Buffay, gave credence to that theory in a 2014 interview with the Television Academy suggesting that she, too, believed the character was gay at first.
Noting that Chandler possesses what he believes is “a gay sensibility, but no gay storylines,” Baume told HuffPost, “If they had made it fully gay ― written gay, played gay ― would that have been a good thing or a bad thing?”
“On one hand, it would have been amazing to see a gay main character on one of the most popular shows in TV history,” he continued. “But on the other, ‘Friends’ seemed to falter sometimes when they tackled queer topics. They’d often repeat the same simple joke, that it would be funny if a person was gay. … [The show] seemed to be at its best when telling heterosexual stories, and I’m not sure they could have pulled off the challenge of featuring TV’s most prominent gay main character.”
Watch Matt Baume break down Chandler on “Friends” below.
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