Ricky Gervais: Netflix viewers condemn ‘toxic’, ‘transphobic’ and ‘ignorant’ new special

Some Netflix users say they have cancelled their subscriptions in reaction to the special

Louis Chilton
Tuesday 24 May 2022 13:05 BST
Ricky Gervais gives his take on the rules of comedy in his stand-up special

Ricky Gervais’s new Netflix special has been met with condemnation online over a series of jokes targeting transgender people.

Viewers have described the former Office star’s new special, SuperNature, as “toxic” and “transphobic” following its release on Tuesday (24 May).

In his two-star review for The Independent, Nick Hilton wrote: “As is all too frequent these days, the longest riff is reserved for the humiliation of trans people. ‘Full disclosure,’ [Gervais] reveals towards the end of the show, ‘in real life, of course I support trans rights.’

“At this point there are a few stray cheers from the naïve few in the audience who think the irony is real, but that’s nothing compared to the roar of laughter and applause when the punchline – a crass joke about gender affirmation surgery – arrives.”

The following passage contains descriptions of material which some readers may find offensive.

One clip, which has been circulated on social media, sees Gervais say: “Oh, women! 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 c***s. They’re as good as gold, I love them.”

He then imagines a conversation between two people. “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?’ ‘Well, his penis.’ ‘Her penis, you f**ing bigot!’ ‘What if he rapes me?’ ‘What if she rapes you, you f***ing TERF w****?’”

Ricky Gervais as seen in ‘SuperNature'
Ricky Gervais as seen in ‘SuperNature' (Netflix)

The routine prompted disgust and opprobrium from many viewers, with one person writing: “The trans jokes are really, really s***. Yay for punching down Ricky.”

“Ricky Gervais has a new stand up show out on Netflix today. Five minutes in and he’s making jokes about trans women attacking and raping people in public bathrooms. To him we exist only as a punchline, a threat, something less than human,” wrote another.

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“A reminder to cis people; do NOT watch this. Do your best to not give it attention. Transphobia as a publicity stunt is a common occurrence and this is no different. Ricky Gervais is choosing to attack a highly marginalised group for his personal gain. Cancel your Netflix,” wrote someone else.

Others also claimed they were cancelling their subscriptions to Netflix as a result.

“In honour of Ricky Gervais and his 2-4-1 rant on trans people and cancel culture, I am in fact, cancelling. Thanks @netflix ,” wrote one person.

Gervais has previously faced criticism for his handling of trans issues in past specials
Gervais has previously faced criticism for his handling of trans issues in past specials (AFP via Getty Images)

“F*** Transphobia !!!, F*** Ricky Gervais !!!” another wrote. “@netflix Treating us as less than human, some punchline for a washed up bigoted comedian, no wonder you are losing hundreds of thousands of subscribers.”

“You’ve got to be stupid to think re-peddling the most tired, ignorant, Trump-cult fuelled transphobic crap is edgy,” wrote writer and journalist Will Black. “Ricky Gervais, 40 years into his career, vomitting up toxic crap to make money from failing @netflix is little different to a Jim Davidson special for thick bigots.”

The Independent has contacted a representative for Gervais for comment.

Last week, Gervais discussed why people find his humour offensive. “People get offended when they mistake the subject of the joke with the actual target and smart people know you can deal with anything, particularly when dealing with something like irony,” The Office creator told Stephen Colbert.

Netflix has previously faced criticism for its decision to run content described by critics as transphobic, most notably in the case of comedian Dave Chappelle.

Chappelle’s specials for the streaming service were also criticised for jokes targeting trans people. Netflix employees staged a walkout last year in protest, with the employee who first criticised the company eventually resigning over the incident.

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