Martha Kaufman isn’t particularly happy with how the show treats Chandler’s (Matthew Perry) transgender parent. In an interview with the BBC World Service, The Conversation show (via huffington post), Kaufman made it perfectly clear that Chandler’s parent Helena, a transgender woman, got a pretty nasty deal on the sitcom. “We kept calling her ‘Chandler’s dad’ even though Chandler’s dad was transgender,” Kaufman said. I didn’t understand pronouns yet. That’s why we didn’t call this character “she”. It was a mistake.”
The error Kaufman refers to extends to the very title of one of the two episodes in which Helena appears, “The One with Chandler’s Father”. There’s also the fact that the character is being played by Kathleen Turner, who already stated a few years ago that she would now hand over the role, which should go to a transgender actor.
In an interview, Kaufman also acknowledged other criticisms such as performance issues in the show’s casting. “If I had known then what I know now, I would have changed a few things,” she said. “But I didn’t know them, and I’ve since learned.”
While the co-writer is clearly acutely aware of the mistakes made by Friends, she seems completely adamant about not repeating them.