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‘Most Popular Comedian on Netflix’: Netflix CEO Stands with Dave Chappelle, Says Platform Would Order More Specials ‘Again and Again’ Following Outrage

If Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings has his way, Dave Chappelle will remain a staple on Netflix with many more specials in the future.

Chappelle’s 2021 Netflix special “The Closer” generated a huge backlash against the streaming giant after the controversial comedian made remarks about transgender people. While the project garnered Chappelle two Primetime Emmy nominations, it sparked threats of boycotts from employees as many demanded the actor be held accountable. However, Hastings says they’re prepared to order more Chappelle specials “again and again.” 

Hasting recently made the admission at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit on Wednesday, telling reporters, “We’re just trying to be the most exciting entertainment company and more,” when it comes to how they’ve handled controversy in recent years, before adding, “That special was one of the most entertaining watch specials we’ve ever had. We would do it again and again.”

“The Closer” served as the final special per Chappelle’s agreement with the streaming giant. Hastings described the comedian as “very entertaining and provocative,” noting that he aligns with Netflix’s overall goal of being “about entertainment.” Co-CEO Ted Saranados made a similar statement following the show’s October 2021 release after many called for it to be removed from streaming services. 

However, Saranados later sent out an email stating that not only would they not remove the show, but he also doubled down on his defense of Chappelle while acknowledging that many didn’t agree with his views on the comedian. “We know that a number of you have been left angry, disappointed, and hurt by our decision to put Dave Chappelle’s latest special on Netflix,” he wrote at the time.

“Also, we have many new colleagues who want to better understand the principles that guide our team’s content choices, especially with challenging titles like this. Our goal is to entertain the world, which means programming for a diversity of tastes. This member-centric view has driven our growth over the last 20 years, despite all the competition, and remains Netflix’s north star today,” he added. 

Though he later admitted fault for his initial response to employees, the co-CEO has maintained his support of the star, “Rarely do you get the opportunity to put your principles to the test,” the exec said earlier this year.

He added, “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.”

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