It is a truth universally acknowledged that every single person in possession of a television must have seen Friends – twice. We bet that you could even head into the dense tropical forests of Indonesia, find your way to the timber treehouses of the Karowai tribe, scream “WE WERE ON A BREAK” at them, and they’d know exactly what (and, more importantly, who) you’re referring to.
Yet, even now, the show manages to catch us off-guard, with little known facts, compelling (albeit dark) fan theories and previously unnoticed mistakes. For every pleasant surprise, though, there is one to make us question society at large (think the time Lisa Kudrow was the victim of misogynist abuse on set) – and this story about the banning of an iconic Friends scene is one such occasion.
Back in 1996, the Central Perk gang were just finding their feet. Ross (David Schwimmer), in particular, had a lot on his plate: not only was he dealing with the fallout of his (first) divorce, but he was finding a way to be friends with his ex-wife, Carol (Jane Sibbett), and her lesbian partner, Susan (Jessica Hecht), for the sake of his and his former spouse’s young son, Ben.
When Carol and Susan announced their plans to marry, Ross was firmly opposed to the idea. But, when his ex-wife’s parents refused to attend her wedding, it was Ross who encouraged her to go ahead with the ceremony… and even walked her down the aisle (although he found it tricky to ‘give her away’ at the end).
Now, during a recent appearance on ITV’s Lorraine, Sibbett and Hecht recalled that their characters' lesbian wedding from season two was actually cut by narrow-minded authorities in certain countries – including America.
“It was the first lesbian wedding to ever be shown on TV and they blocked it out in some affiliates,” revealed Sibbett. “But it all worked out as we got so much press because they blocked it.
“We actually won awards for that storyline!”
In 1996, New York did not recognise or authorise same-sex marriage - and this ruling was not overturned until the Martinez v. County of Monroe case in 2008.
Nowadays, though, same-sex marriage is legal in all states. This means all US states must grant marriage licences to gay and lesbian couples and recognise marriages that have taken place in other states.
It’s understandable, then, why The One With The Lesbian Wedding had such a huge effect on nineties audiences.
Hecht explained: “We won awards for that. That was nothing to do with us but we won a GLAAD Award, so it was remarkable.”
Sibbett, admitting that she had no idea how much of an impact her character would have on the LGBTQ community, continued: “I remember meeting a man at one awards ceremony that was held by an organisation that works with gay families.
“He said to me that if he'd had Carol and Susan as role models when he was a young boy, he probably wouldn't have tried to [die by] suicide so many times. I hadn't even thought of that.”
Read more: 10 little known facts about Friends
Sibbett and Hecht appeared on the ITV breakfast programme as part of FriendsFest, an annual celebration of the antics of the famous six.
This year the touring set of the show will be going all across the UK and giving fans the chance to visit the apartment of Monica Gellar (Courtney Cox) and famous coffee shop Central Perk.
And, for the first time since Friends ended in 2004, Hecht and Sibbett will be working alongside one another to promote it.
It’s good to see them back together, isn’t it? Fingers crossed this will inspire them to work on that Carol and Susan Friends spin-off we’ve all been waiting for...