Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of state-run news channel RT (Russia Today), appeared to blame the Friends sitcom for the alleged decline of the West when discussing the Ukraine war.
Speaking on Russia’s state-owned Channel 1 on Sunday, the pro-Kremlin Simonyan, 42, questioned what the meaning was of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“What is this fight all about? This war is for our right to have our children be like us and not like them. It is a gulf between us and our children and them and their children—a mental, cultural gulf,” she said, according to a translation provided by Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, who also posted the video on Twitter.
“Thirty years ago, when I myself studied in the States, it seemed we are so similar. And we really were alike,” the RT editor-in-chief continued.
“It was just beginning then—the very first gurgles of now already boiling ultra-liberal borscht—they were small then, it was hard to notice them.
“You had to have very good eyesight to notice it in the 1994 TV series Friends, for example, which is probably the most popular American TV series of all time, such a personification of American culture.”
She then talks about the first scene in the 90s sitcom, when one of the protagonists Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) is confused and sad because his wife left him for a woman.
“[H]is wife left, left for a woman, discovering after several years of marriage that she was a lesbian. And all this is shown so sympathetically: she seems to be right but he is not quite right. This is 1994,” Simonyan said.
“It was also impossible to notice frenzied propaganda in this, because it was so rare, so fresh, so interesting. And now we have what we have. And we will not jump over this [gulf].”
“We’ll either save ourselves—the way we have to do it now, or we’ll be there,” she added.
Newsweek has contacted NBC, the channel that initially aired Friends, for comment.
She appeared to be suggesting that Friends was showing pro-LGBTQ+ propaganda and that the war against Ukraine was pitting Russian values against Western values. LGBTQ+ Russians often face legal and social challenges in their country.
On Thursday, October 27, Russian lawmakers unanimously voted for a bill that forbids spreading “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors and adults. It essentially expands to adults a 2013 law that makes providing information about LGBTQ+ issues to children a criminal offense.
A poll released by Statista in October 2021 revealed that 38 percent of Russians said they were “disgusted or scared” of homosexuals, while 32 percent were “calm, without any specific emotions.” Some 13 percent said they were “irritated” by gay people and 3 percent said they felt “friendly” towards them.
The war in Ukraine began on February 24 when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his “special military operation.”
Over the weekend, Russian state TV host Vladimir Solovyov said that the war in Ukraine was set to become a “gigantic European war.”