OPINION: Is Netflix failing its LGBT fans?
"It was like the ultimate betrayal by a trusted friend"
My love affair with Netflix began in June of 2014, when I first discovered Orange Is The New Black. My love wasn’t just for the show, but equally for the company behind it. I have to admit it was a blissful time in what I now refer to as the “Orange Bubble”. So much love and appreciation was shown by Netflix for the LGBTQ+ community, through massive marketing, fun contests, and official social media accounts. I was hook, line, and sinker into believing that I had discovered a magical place where the LGBTQ+ community was understood, valued, and celebrated. A place where LGBTQ+ led shows were sure to be plentiful and handled with dignity and care. Little did I know my "Orange Bubble” would burst when Netflix’s new seductive psychological thriller GYPSY came into my life.
GYPSY is an LGBTQ+ led show, starring Naomi Watts as Jean Holloway. Jean is a psychologist who erroneously meddles in her patients’ lives. Her meddling leads to a sultry affair with an unapologetic bisexual, Sidney Pierce, played by Sophie Cookson. As soon as I watched GYPSY, I knew it would become the next big Netflix obsession within the LGBTQ+ community. The chemistry between Jean and Sidney is so palpable that, with every scene, you’re left desperate for more, earning GYPSY Netflix’s Steamiest Show for 2017 on Decider.com. And the story of Dolly, played by Maren Heary, a young child exploring their gender, couldn’t be more timely or necessary. The writing is incredibly smart with weaving, suspenseful, and intricate storylines, all played by an impeccable cast. GYPSY focuses on vital topics like truth, identity, authenticity and instills that it’s hard to be truly happy when you deny yourself these crucial things.
It wasn’t a surprise to me that Netflix had created another important LGBTQ+ led original series. In fact, I was anticipating it. Yet this time was different. There was nearly no advertising, no Twitter account, no Instagram account, no contests, no hype whatsoever. GYPSY just seemed to show up on the Netflix streaming service one day, in the midst of all the massive marketing hype for GLOW, Friends From College, and Ozark. It took a few weeks, but news started to spread like wildfire on social media about GYPSY, and just as it was about to explode, Netflix cancelled it.
GYPSY was cancelled in just six short weeks, the quickest cancellation in Netflix’s history. Literally stunning fans into disbelief, and putting out the inferno of excitement that was rapidly circulating. Heartbreak is an understatement in trying to describe the emotion fans felt with GYPSY’s cancellation. The shock and pain was breathtaking. It was like the ultimate betrayal by a trusted friend. As you can imagine, the outcry from fans came swift and loud! Fans from all over the world began connecting and uniting to fight for GYPSY, to fight for truth, authenticity, identity, women, and LGBTQ+ led content. It didn’t take long until a campaign was launched and the Easy Tigers group was formed.
Easy Tigers is a group of fans who have band together from all over the world committed to bringing back these important stories. For the past nine months we’ve been making phone calls, sending impassioned emails, sending heartfelt letters, filling out Title Request forms, and mailing in creative campaigns and replica items from the show on a consistent basis to the top executives at Netflix. We continue to reach out through social media daily, and YouTube is absolutely flooded with Jean and Sidney videos, easily achieving millions of views. Recently, we also took the step of putting up two billboards in Los Angeles. The first billboard can be found just outside Netflix’s Los Angeles office at 5908 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028. The second can be found at 8853 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069 in the heart of LGBTQ+ friendly West Hollywood. We’ve been reaching out to Netflix every single day since GYPSY’s cancellation and we have yet to receive a single response from them, not one, not even a reason for GYPSY’s cancellation.
I wish I could say that GYPSY is an isolated incident. My heart would fare far better if that were the case, but sadly, Sense8 and Everything Sucks fans have very similar stories to tell. In the past year, Netflix has clearly established a pattern of not properly marketing their LGBTQ+ led original shows and cancelling them over their less well-received and less diverse shows. In fact, with the exception of Orange Is The New Black, there hasn’t been one Netflix LGBTQ+ led original to make it past two seasons. These shows aren’t failing Netflix. Netflix is failing them.
GYPSY, Sense8, and Everything Sucks fans have been screaming out asking for a dialogue with Netflix on how to stop this pattern, only to be met with silence. The same company I fell for back in June of 2014, whose media streaming service was built on the backs of the LGBTQ+ community, is only offering silence. A far cry from the dignity and respect I once anticipated. As an administrator for the Easy Tigers, I often get asked, “When did Netflix change?” I only wish I had an answer. One thing I’m sure of is Netflix is rapidly marginalising a large portion of its LGBTQ+ subscriber base. As this Pride season rolls around and we watch Netflix’s fancy floats, and see their rainbow billboards, I’ll be left to ponder: are we truly being celebrated, were we ever being celebrated, or did it always mean something else?
P.S. Queer Eye, we’re routing for you!
A note to Netflix: If you refuse to continue these stories, please sell them. Please allow someone else to own them. These stories matter. These stories save lives. We don’t just want them. We need them!
Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of DIVA magazine or its publishers.
Interested in reading a different perspective? Check out this article, How Netflix And Queer Culture Are Healing The Wounds Of Patriarchy.
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