Ricky Gervais’s new Netflix comedy special SuperNature premiered on the streaming service today and it’s drawing fierce backlash for its profoundly and graphically transphobic “jokes.”
A few minutes into the special, Gervais launches into his first salvo against trans women. “Oh, women!” he begins. “Not all women, I mean the old-fashioned ones. The old-fashioned women, the ones with wombs. Those fucking 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 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?’ ‘Well, his penis.’ ‘Her penis, you fucking bigot!’ ‘What if he rapes me?’ ‘What if she rapes you, you fucking TERF [trans-exclusionary radical feminist] whore?’”
Gervais then pivots to his standard talking point, which paints himself as the victim of cancel culture while again commenting on trans women’s genitals. “You can’t predict what will be offensive in the future,” he says. “You don’t know who the dominant mob will be. Like, the worst thing you can say today, get you canceled on Twitter, death threats, the worst thing you can say today is, ‘Women don’t have penises,’ right? Now, no one saw that coming. You won’t find a 10-year-old tweet of someone saying, ‘Women don’t have penises.’ You know why? We didn’t think we fucking had to!”
These comments have drawn the ire of many on Twitter.
That Gervais would also make jokes aimed at the trans community should come as no surprise, as it is far from his first brush with transphobic commentary and “comedy”. While hosting the 2016 Golden Globe Awards, Gervais deadnamed Caitlyn Jenner. In 2019, he came out swinging in defense of transphobic comments made by author J.K. Rowling. “Those awful biological women can never understand what it must be like for you becoming a lovely lady so late in life. They take their girly privileges for granted. Winning at female sports and having their own toilets. Well, enough is enough,” he joked on Twitter. Later, in apparent defense of women (as he defines them), Gervais added, “We need to protect the rights of women. Not erode them because some men have found a new cunning way to dominate and demonize an entire sex.”
Despite his comments in the special and over the years on stage and on Twitter, Gervais tries to walk back some of his anti-trans jokes later in the special. “Full disclosure: In real life of course I support trans rights. I support all human rights, and trans rights are human rights. Live your best life. Use your preferred pronouns. Be the gender that you feel that you are. But meet me halfway, ladies: Lose the cock. That’s all I’m saying,” he says.
Netflix has yet to comment on the backlash, but earlier this month did revise its culture policy to include support of artistic expression. “Not everyone will like — or agree with — everything on our service. While every title is different, we approach them based on the same set of principles: we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with; we program for a diversity of audiences and tastes; and we let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices,” the company said, adding, “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”