Netflix seems content to carve out a niche as the home of transphobic comedy. A few months after rushing to the defense of Dave Chappelle following criticism of his special, The Closer, co-CEO Ted Sarandos is rationalizing the trans-hostile comedy of Ricky Gervais’ SuperNature.
In a new interview with The New York Times, Sarandos tried to justify platforming comedians like Gervais, even when their specials contain offensive jokes aimed at the trans community.
“I think it’s very important to the American culture generally to have free expression,” he said. “We’re programming for a lot of diverse people who have different opinions and different tastes and different styles, and yet we’re not making everything for everybody. We want something for everybody but everything’s not going to be for everybody… Nobody would say that what he does isn’t thoughtful or smart. You just don’t agree with him.”
Early on during SuperNature, Gervais uses fellow comedian Eddie Izzard — who’s long identified as trans and began exclusively using she/her pronouns in 2020 — as a punchline. He later launched into a diatribe rife with TERF-friendly terminology suggesting trans women are rapists only interested in using women’s restrooms for sexual violence.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Sarandos has stood his ground regarding such controversial programming on Netflix. Last fall, he sent an internal memo in the wake of releasing Dave Chappelle’s The Closer, which stated his belief that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.” This led to a walkout spearheaded by the streamer’s LGBTQ+ employees. He later called his choice of words a “screw-up.”