EXCL Tory rising star Kemi Badenoch hits out at 'puritanical' Millennials offended by Friends
A Conservative rising star has hit out at "puritanical" Millennials for taking offence at the storylines in US comedy Friends.
Kemi Badenoch said the backlash against the hit 1990s series was proof that young people are more "conservative" than previous generations.
The Saffron Walden MP also said the recent controversy over sexual harassment showed that attitudes are less liberal than in years gone by.
Ms Badenoch, 37, wowed delegates at the Conservative Party conference last October with a barnstorming speech ahead of Theresa May's keynote address.
She was appointed a vice-chairman of the party with responsibility for election candidates in last week's Cabinet reshuffle, and has been tipped as a possible future Tory leader.
Friends, which ran for 10 years from 1994, was recently streamed on Netflix for the first time, opening it up to a new generation of viewers.
But critics said some of its storylines were sexist, homophobic and transphobic.
Speaking to The House magazine, Ms Badenoch said: "When I look at a lot of the stuff that you see on social media about how – I think it’s a generational thing as well – younger people look at appropriate behaviours and what is a sexual advance, what is sexual harassment and so on; to me, it’s actually becoming a lot more puritanical than anything I ever saw in my 20s or in my teens.
"In the papers they were talking about how Friends is now sort of really homophobic, transphobic and so on. That, for me, is a very, very – it’s actually a puritanical position which I think of as conservative. So, you can’t really put your finger on what is what these days."
She added: "I genuinely don’t understand where a lot of people are coming from in the sense that these are things which – I mean, Friends was the biggest television series of all time. Everybody loved it, it was syndicated all around the world. The idea that in a few years people are talking about it as if it’s this horrific series, for me that just doesn’t compute, something has gone wrong somewhere.
"I don’t know whether it’s just a fad where people are saying these things and then they’ll move on to something else or whether this is now a permanent thing.
"I’ve seen these sort of fits and seizures where everybody is interested in something and then they move on. When I first got into politics, this is 2005, there was Live Aid… and that was what everybody was talking about. And then they sort of moved on from it.
"It was fashionable, they wore the bracelets, they went to the concert.
"I don’t know whether this is something like that, or whether this is something more profound and long lasting."
Elsewhere in the interview, the MP reveals how she had to remove her own husband from a list of potential Tory candidates to avoid accusations of a conflict of interest.
She said: "Even in that sort of scenario, people will say ‘oh they’re getting rid of Remainers’, because he was Remain and I was Brexit, or ‘he’s been removed because he’s a white public schoolboy' or something.
"But actually, it’s just because there’s a conflict of interest if you’re on the candidates list and your wife’s head of candidates. I didn’t think that it would be appropriate. As long as I’m doing this role, I asked him if he minded just stepping off because I don’t want that to be part of the argument."