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Ricky Gervais Netflix Special Causes Controversy

Ricky Gervais from his Netflix special Humanity
(Image credit: Netflix)

Ricky Gervais has a comedy special called SuperNature on Netflix, which went live May 24. The special is sparking controversy for Gervais’s comments on trans people.

“Oh, women!” he starts. “Not all women, I mean the old-fashioned ones. The old-fashioned women, the ones with wombs. Those f***ing dinosaurs. I love the new women…They’re great, aren’t they? The new ones we’ve been seeing lately — the ones with beards” and penises. 

Moments later, Gervais discusses restrooms, and who is entitled to use the ladies’ room. “What about this person isn’t a lady?” Gervais asks. “Well, his penis.”

Before those quips, Gervais warned the audience they’d hear a bit of irony that evening. “That’s when I say something I don’t really mean for comic effect,” said Gervais. 

John L. Spencer directed the special, which was recorded at the London Palladium. It runs for an hour and five minutes.

Known for his scathing wit, Gervais hosted the Golden Globes in 2010, 2011 and 2012, then again in 2016 and 2020. His TV credits include The Office (UK), Extras and After Life.

Last year, Dave Chappelle and Netflix were criticized for jokes in his special The Closer that came at the expense of trans people, resulting in a walkout at Netflix headquarters. 

Also: Netflix Stumbles Into New Normal Amid Trans-Chappelle Controversy

LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD addressed Gervais and Netflix on Twitter. “Netflix has a policy that content ‘designed to incite hate or violence’ is not allowed on their platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that. While Netflix is home to some groundbreaking LGBTQ shows, it refuses to enforce its own policy in comedy,” it reads. 

“The LGBTQ community and our allies have made it very clear that so-called comedians who spew hate in place of humor, and the media companies who give them a platform, will be held accountable. Meanwhile, there are PLENTY of funny LGBTQ comedians to support,” it concludes. ■

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.