Netflix CEO faces backlash for wild comments on cancelled shows: ‘They are NOT allies’

A graphic shows the Netflix logo and a scene from its cancelled show Warrior Nun depicting two female characters kissing. (Netflix)

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has faced backlash from LGBTQ+ fans after making controversial remarks about popular shows that have been cancelled.

The streaming platform has come under fire in recent months after relentlessly cancelling a slew of popular TV series, especially those offering much-needed LGBTQ+ representation.

In the past year alone, shows such as First Kill, Warrior Nun, Uncoupled, 1899, Fate: The Winx Saga and more have all been unceremoniously axed, leading to outrage from their respective fandoms who have launched countless petitions to try and save them.

Ava and Beatrice in Warrior Nun (Netflix)

According to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, however, the streaming platform has never once cancelled a show that pulled in the right numbers.

“We have never cancelled a successful show,” Sarandos told Bloomberg in a new interview.

“A lot of these shows were well-intended but talk to a very small audience on a very big budget.

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“The key to it is you have to be able to talk to a small audience on a small budget and a large audience at a large budget. If you do that well, you can do that forever.”

Sarandos’ comments echo those made by Netflix’s Bela Bajaria in a recent interview with The New Yorker in which she stated: “At some point it’s, like, is the budget better spent on a next new thing?”

What has the reaction to Sarandos’ statement been like?

As you can imagine, LGBTQ+ fans haven’t taken kindly to Sarandos’ comments, highlighting the streamer’s historic habit of cancelling shows with strong LGBTQ+ representation, including Sense8, Shadowhunters and Anne with an E.

In particular, people pointed out the major hypocrisy after a resurfaced tweet from 2017 showed Netflix promising to “try not to” leave a “story unfinished” after cancelling the hugely successful LGBTQ+ series Sense8.

Twitter users have also highlighted how Netflix’s trend for cancelling LGBTQ+ shows gave rise to the phrase “cancel your gays” – a spin-off of the heavily criticised trope of “bury your gays” in which LGBTQ+ characters are killed off in films and TV shows.

When Warrior Nun, which centres around a sapphic relationship between Ava and Beatrice, was cancelled by the streamer, fans united in a viral #SaveWarriorNun campaign, while 110,000 people signed a petition.

The show gained Netflix’s highest audience score on Rotten Tomatoes with 99% from 4,500 reviews, as well as consistently hitting the top 10 most popular shows on the platform around its release.

Fans of Warrior Nun outrage have joined forces with First Kill fans, who saw their favourite series about two lesbian vampires cut short after just one season.

First Kill broke records after it was first released in 2022, with the show notching up over 100 million hours and peaking at number three in English-speaking territories.

One Twitter user shared how First Kill deeply resonated with her, adding: “I think you [Sarandos] are a joke. The reason I watch queer shows is to feel representation.”

For the most part, people are baffled by the sheer audacity of Sarandos to throw dedicated fandoms, particularly from marginalised communities, under the bus.

“So what I’m hearing is that Netflix is prejudice, racist and homophobic because smaller minority demographics don’t bring in as much money so we don’t deserve content? A lot of the shows were top 10 shows despite having smaller communities and still got cancelled,” one person argued.

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