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Netflix’s premature cancellation of several LGBTQ+ shows raises concerns about allyship

Netflix’s premature cancellation of several LGBTQ+ shows raises concerns about allyship

Netflix’s premature cancellation of several LGBTQ+ shows raises concerns about allyship
July 30
09:00 2023

There are 629 million people worldwide that turn to Netflix for their everyday entertainment due to the platform currently housing numerous successful and critically acclaimed series. The streaming platform canceled a disproportionate number of shows centered on queerness after just one season, raising questions about the platform’s commitment to diverse queer representation.

According to GLAAD’s “Where We Are on TV” study, out of 596 LGBTQ+ characters, 29 percent of those, or 175 characters, have had their shows canceled across all streaming platforms this year. The study shows that the series that continue to stream are just the bare minimum, which is insufficient and shows the lack of diverse queer representation in media. 

The show “First Kill” – which starred a Black lesbian lead character played by Imani Lewis – was terminated due to not meeting thresholds for viewing and completing episodes. The excuse is far from credible – the Netflix Top 10 site shows statistics proving that the series quickly cleared almost 100M hours viewed in the first 28 days of release. 

Those statistics are doubled compared to the critically acclaimed queer show “Heartstopper,” which follows the story of Nick and Charlie and their blossoming relationship and continues to stream on Netflix with a new season release scheduled for this August.

According to Statista, by the last quarter of 2022, 179 original content titles were released on Netflix and only 28 of those were LGBTQ+ shows. Of those 28 shows, only seven have yet to be canceled or could stream three or more seasons. Such a disproportionate cancellation rate for queer shows within Netflix’s diverse selection is unsettling.

The cancellation rate is strikingly high when it comes to shows featuring lesbian characters or relationships. From “Everything Sucks!” to “One Day At A Time” and “Teenage Bounty Hunters,” Netflix appears to have a disturbing pattern of discontinuing shows with lesbian representation. Even shows like “I Am Not Okay With This” and “Atypical,” which centered around lesbian characters, met the same unfortunate fate.

While it’s essential to recognize that the cancellations aren’t limited to lesbian-focused shows, as various other diverse queer shows have suffered a similar fate, the clear bias toward gay men as the standard of the LGBTQ+ community in media cannot be ignored. Shows like “Young Royals,” “Heartstopper,” “Queer Eye,” “Umbrella Academy,” and “Sex Education” have been renewed, whereas others with similar viewership and critical acclaim haven’t received the same treatment.

This bias has led to a fetishization of gay couples, perpetuating the stereotype that gay men are more marketable and appealing to audiences. In doing so, Netflix dismisses the importance of showcasing a variety of LGBTQ+ perspectives and experiences, limiting the representation of the queer community to a narrow and often objectified portrayal.

The positive portrayal of queer characters in TV shows is a significant step forward for healthy representation of the LGBTQ+ community. These shows challenge stereotypes and foster understanding by presenting multi-dimensional characters with diverse experiences. They address important social issues and inspire both LGBTQ+ youth and wider audiences. 

The positive representation offered by these shows also served as a source of inspiration and empowerment for the LGBTQ+ community. Seeing characters on screen who shared their identities and faced similar hurdles instilled a sense of hope and belonging. For those grappling with their identities, these shows acted as a lifeline, reassuring them that they were not alone and that their stories mattered.

The impact of these shows extended beyond the community. They played a pivotal role in educating and sensitizing wider audiences about the diversity of human experiences. By challenging preconceived notions and showcasing the strength and resilience of LGBTQ+ individuals, these shows foster empathy and understanding among viewers from all walks of life.

While celebrating the renewal of shows that promote positive representation is necessary, it is equally crucial to advocate for the diversity and inclusion of all queer stories. Netflix must acknowledge the impact of its content on shaping societal perceptions and take the responsibility to uplift and empower all queer voices.

By offering a platform for diverse queer narratives and supporting a wide range of LGBTQ+ shows, Netflix can become a true ally to the community it claims to represent. Embracing diversity benefits marginalized groups, enriches storytelling and creates a more inclusive and empathetic society. As viewers and advocates, we must continue to demand better representation and hold Netflix accountable for its choices. By doing so, we can ensure that the platform’s allyship extends to all members of the LGBTQ+ community, not just a select few.

Featured Illustration by Allie Garza

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Ximena Rondon

Ximena Rondon

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