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The Friends Episode Matthew Perry Refused To Do

It's always a little jarring when you see a celebrity interviewed on TV and realize the actor isn't the character he or she plays. Sometimes, that's a letdown (Think death to a massive crush). Other times, it's a relief, like getting confirmation a terrifying villain doesn't actually exist in real life. However, actors don't take up the craft to play themselves. They generally learn scripted lines and inhabit personalities to tell stories about other people.

Breaking into the business is hard enough. Most actors aren't about to complain when they sign on to a role that requires them to say and do things that don't match perfectly with their personal values. Of course, when you're on a top-rated TV show, you have a little more power at your disposal as an actor. That's the position Matthew Perry found himself in when he read a "Friends" script that took Chandler too far out of his comfort zone.

The show pushes boundaries that push our buttons

"Friends" holds up as a light-hearted sitcom with a cast of entertaining characters. But some of the show's comedic moments illustrate how different attitudes were in the 1990s. For example, it was apparently perfectly acceptable to poke fun at people for their body size and shape. How many times do we see Monica (Courtney Cox) in a fat suit? And what's the deal with all those gags designed to encourage audience laughter at her obsession with food, her dance moves, and her inability to lose her virginity — all because she's overweight? Jokes like that just don't play these days.

If "Friends" teaches us women had to be thin in the '90s, it also shows us gender roles for men were entrenched. The show's male characters routinely objectify women. How about that scene where Ross (David Schwimmer) tells Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) he can see her naked any time he wants in his memory, even after they've broken up? Men in the "Friends" universe can't be nurturing (a male nanny is the absolute limit), and they act possessive to prove their love (like when Ross flips out over Rachel's dedication to her job).

Times really were different back then, and these episodes all made it onto the air. Not only that, they made the show a hit. "Friends" actually had to go even further to get pushback from Perry.

Just find a sandwich shop, Chandler

There's another cringe-worthy comedy thread woven throughout "Friends" that targets pretty much anyone who isn't straight and gender-conforming. Chandler's father (Kathleen Turner) fits in here, as the butt of many jokes for his nontraditional lifestyle and work as a drag queen. Along those same lines, suggestions a male character might be gay (or somehow less masculine than he ought to be) are considered outrageous and hilarious. Joey (Matt LeBlanc) is set up to believe he's becoming a woman when he learns to knit. Chandler is mocked when a story comes out that he once accidentally kissed a transgender woman. Much to his horror, Chandler is also frequently mistaken as a gay man – and he makes plenty of jokes throughout the show as if to prove he's definitely not.

Perry didn't object (that we know of) to all of the episodes leaning heavily on homophobic humor, but there was one script he couldn't agree to do. The storyline involved Chandler and sandwiches. Plainly put, the character begins frequenting a male strip club, but only for the food, not the men. It never made it on the air.

During an interview with Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen about whether the show ever jumped the shark, Perry didn't hesitate. He said it was the strip club episode. While he didn't explain his gut reaction, he did take action to stop it from happening. Whatever his reasons, we have to agree: On this one, Perry made the right call.