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Netflix Is Getting a Lot of Backlash From Employees Over This New Show

Dave Chappelle's new comedy special has the streaming service under fire.

Netflix has become one of the most trusted names in TV, bringing in many viewers with its wide-ranging original programming, from the new hit Squid Game to instant classics like Stranger Things. But now, another new release has the streaming service garnering the wrong kind of attention. Dave Chappelle's latest comedy special for Netflix, Dave Chappelle: The Closer, was released on Oct. 5, and in the two days since it's come out, it has garnered received negative reviews from critics, caused employees of Netflix to speak out against it, and warranted statements from LGBTQIA organizations. Read on to learn more about the latest controversy that has Netflix under fire.

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The new Netflix comedy special Dave Chappelle: The Closer is under fire for anti-trans comments.

Dave Chappelle performing his comedy special "The Closer"
Mathieu Bitton / Netflix

In The Closer, Chappelle claims that "gender is a fact" and says, "Team TERF!" which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. Chappelle brought up this term when speaking about Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling, who has been called a "TERF" after making offensive comments about trans people of her own.

Chappelle also talks about gay people in the special, saying, "In our country, you can shoot and kill a n*****, but you better not hurt a gay person's feelings," in reference to rapper DaBaby, who came under fire for the latter, but was previously involved in a fight at a North Carolina Walmart during which someone was shot and killed.

In the stand-up special, Chappelle also comments on gay rights, saying, "If slaves had oil and booty shorts on, we might have been free 100 years sooner." As critic Eric Deggans points out in his review for NPR, words like these do not take into account Black members of the LGBTQIA community. "It ignores the fact that there are plenty of nonwhite gay people who face oppression for both their sexual orientation and their race," Deggans writes.

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Netflix employees have spoken out against the decision to release Chappelle's special.

Dave Chappelle at a Netflix event in 2018
Kathy Hutchins /

As reported by Insider, some Netflix employees have spoken out against the special on social media. One trans employee wrote, "I work at @netflix. Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness—all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups." The employee then went on to list the numerous trans people who have been killed this year.

Another Netflix employee posted, "I didn't expect my job to include supporting the platforming of hate speech when I woke up today, yet here we are."

Jaclyn Moore, an executive producer of the Netflix series Dear White People, wrote that she will no longer be working with the company as a result of The Closer. "I told the story of my transition for @netflix and @most's Pride week," Moore tweeted. "It's a network that's been my home on @DearWhitePeople. I've loved working there. I will not work with them as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content."

Multiple LGBTQIA organizations have condemned Chapelle and Netflix for airing the special.

Netflix logo on tablet
Poring Studio/Shutterstock

On Oct. 6, GLAAD tweeted, "Dave Chappelle's brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities. Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don't support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes. We agree."

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), which supports the rights of Black LGBTQIA people, also commented. On Oct. 6, NBJC executive director David Johns told Variety in a statement, "With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States—the majority of whom are Black transgender people—Netflix should know better. Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community."

Chappelle ended his special saying he wouldn't make jokes about the LGBTQIA community anymore, but he hasn't commented on the backlash.

Dave Chappelle at the premiere of "BlacKkKlansman" in 2018
Featureflash Photo Agency /

The Closer is Chappelle's sixth comedy special with Netflix and marks the end his deal with the streaming service. At the end of the special, Chappelle says that he is now done with jokes about LGBTQIA people and that he is a supporter of the community. He also talks about his late trans friend, comedian Daphne Dorman, and says that he is done with LGBTQIA jokes "until we are both sure that we are laughing together." He adds, "I'm telling you, it's done. I'm done talking about it. All I ask of your community, with all humility: Will you please stop punching down on my people."

Best Life reached out to Netflix and a representative for Chappelle for further comment on the backlash, but did not yet receive a response.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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