Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, BTS Edited Out of 'Friends' Reunion in China - Rolling Stone
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Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, BTS Edited Out of ‘Friends’ Reunion Special in China

Regulators remove artists from HBO Max special due to previous China bans

Friends Reunion Special - Photography by Terence PatrickFriends Reunion Special - Photography by Terence Patrick

Terence Patrick/HBO MAX

Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and BTS had their appearances in Friends: The Reunion edited out of the HBO Max special upon its release in China this week.

In the special, Bieber shows up as “Spudnik” during a Friends-inspired fashion show, Lady Gaga performs “Smelly Cat” with Lisa Kudrow and BTS members discussed how watching repeats of the sitcom helped them learn English. All of those moments, plus other scenes that referenced the show’s LGBTQ legacy  — in total, six minutes of footage — were removed from the Chinese version of Friends: The Reunion, the New York Times reports.

Gaga and Bieber have long been exiled from the country due to past incidents that insulted the Chinese government: Gaga has been banned from touring in China after meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2016, the BBC reports, while Bieber was banned for assorted “bad behavior” that includes posting a photo on Instagram of his visit to Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine.

BTS drew the ire of the Chinese government this past October when, upon receiving an award, member RM mentioned the “history of pain” and “shared sacrifices” of South Korean and U.S. soldiers during the Korean War, the Hollywood Reporter writes. Following those remarks, the group’s ad campaigns were pulled throughout China.

Despite the censorship, the Friends reunion is a huge streaming hit in China, where many of the nation’s younger generation watched the sitcom repeatedly as a means of learning English.

Related: Watch the Friends reunion on HBO Max here

In This Article: BTS, China, Friends, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga


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