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Netflix’s Ted Sarandos Backs Ricky Gervais’ Transphobic Remarks, Citing Artistic Freedom

Ted Sarandos, the Co-CEO and head of content for Netflix, defended actor-comedian Ricky Gervais, who recently came under fire for his transphobic remarks on the streaming platform’s special, SuperNature and emphasised on the importance of “free expression.”


In an interview with The New York Times, Sarandos was originally responding to a question about the company’s stance on comedian Dave Chappelle‘s transphobic remarks from 2021, and added that his statements applied to Gervais, as well.

On Tuesday, within five minutes into the show, Gervais cracked jokes about women, and went on to say, “Oh, women. Not all women, I mean the old-fashioned ones. The old-fashioned women, you know, the ones with wombs. Those (expletive) dinosaurs.”

“I love the new women. They’re great, aren’t they? The new ones we’ve been seeing lately,” Gervais continued. “The ones with beards and cocks. They’re as good as gold, I love them. And now, the old-fashioned ones (say), ‘Oh, they want to use our toilets.’ ‘Why shouldn’t they use your toilets?’ ‘For ladies!’ ‘They are ladies — look at their pronouns! What about this person isn’t a lady?’,” he added.

LGTBTQIA+ rights organizations like the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and other netizens called out Gervais’ jokes.

Sarandos, however, said, “I think it’s very important to the American culture, generally, to have free expression.”

“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,” he added.


His words reflected Netflix’s recent updates to its culture memo, in which, the platform noted that if its employees are unable to support its talent and their creative freedom, then they may choose to back away from fitting into the organisation’s framework.

Netflix also sought the loyalty of its employees to “protect confidential company information, whether or not it is marked ‘confidential’,” as per its recent memo.

Sarandos further noted, “It was an opportunity to take somebody, like in Dave’s case, who is, by all measure, the comedian of our generation, the most popular comedian on Netflix for sure. Nobody would say that what he does isn’t thoughtful or smart. You just don’t agree with him.”