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Top 10 Most Controversial Netflix Originals

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Written by Q.V. Hough These Netflix Originals have inspired both good vibes and bad ones. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Controversial Netflix Originals. For this list, we’re focusing on original Netflix movies and series that sparked intense pop culture discussions. Because of this, we’re issuing a minor spoiler warning.
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These Netflix Originals have inspired both good vibes and bad ones. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Controversial Netflix Originals.

For this list, we’re focusing on original Netflix movies and series that sparked intense pop culture discussions. Because of this, we’re issuing a minor spoiler warning.

#10: “The OA” (2016-)



With its supernatural plot and teenage characters, this series has more than a few similarities to “Stranger Things.” However, it wasn’t the mystery and intrigue that kept people talking, but rather the shocking finale. Brit Marling stars as Prairie Johnson, aka “The OA,” a blind woman that disappears for seven years and then returns with a new perspective, along with her sight. She performs something called “The Movements,” a type of dance that can supposedly open an inter-dimensional portal. In the Season One finale, a shooter terrorizes a school, but he’s distracted by – yes, “The Movements.” Some found the episode distasteful, while others laughed at the unique defense mechanism.

#9: “Sense8” (2015-)



When this science fiction series premiered, many people tuned in for the Wachowski’s distinct visual style. To Lilly and Lana’s credit, they explore many societal issues in Season 1, with the most important being human connections. By episode 6, four of the characters share an erotic moment. One of them is gay, another is a transgender lesbian, and the other two are straight white men. The episode is officially titled “Demons,” but it’s now known as “Episode Sex.” It’s graphic and sensual – and while the narrative doesn’t reach its climax, the characters most certainly do. For those expecting traditional science fiction, the “Sense8” orgy scene came as a big surprise.


#8: “Iron Fist” (2017-)



When Netflix cast Finn Jones for this Marvel Comics adaptation, the Internet had a polarizing reaction. After starring as Loras Tyrell on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” the English actor was certainly a popular choice to play Danny Rand. Yet, many viewed Jones’ casting a case of studio “whitewashing,” and believed that an actor of Asian descent would have been better suited for the role. To be fair, Iron Fist was indeed presented as a white character in the original comic book. But given that fans have been pushing for an Asian Iron Fist for years, the casting was a controversial choice.


#7: “Death Note” (2017)



Based on a massively popular Japanese manga series, along with a 37-episode anime adaptation, this Netflix Original made news for being entirely Americanized. Directed by noted horror auteur Adam Wingard, “Death Note” is based in Seattle and stars Nat Wolff not as Light Yagami, but rather as Light Turner. As a whole, critics picked apart the filmmaking, while long-time “Death Note” fans expressed their displeasure about the casting and lack of Asian actors. According to many, it’s another case of “whitewashing” that could have easily been avoided with a more thoughtful approach.


#6: “Okja” (2017)



At the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, everybody was talking about director Bong Joon-ho and his superpig. But it wasn’t necessarily the plot that made headlines. “Okja” was one of two Netflix films to premiere at Cannes, and many were offended that the Netflix Original didn’t have an official theatrical release date, not to mention a release date for French cinemas. In addition, South Korea’s three largest movie chains refused to screen “Okja” because of Netflix’s plan to release it online. Some movie fans have also argued that Netflix could potentially limit their directors’ visions, however Bong Joon-ho reported that the shooting format was his only restriction.


#5: “Amy Schumer: The Leather Special” (2017)



For many viewers, this stand-up special didn’t feature Amy Schumer at her best. Some found the crude brand of humor to be offensive, most notably the alt-right. According to various reports, a coordinated effort was made to lower the Netflix Original’s rating, resulting in a lengthy Instagram reaction from Schumer herself. Aside from that, the jokes were generally poorly received, even though Schumer usually incorporates sex comedy into her routine. Despite some critical acclaim, “The Leather Special” ultimately made headlines for its poor ratings and predictable content.


#4: “To the Bone” (2017)



Before this film was released, many people were bothered by the trailer and its graphic visuals. Lily Collins stars as a young woman battling with anorexia, and the actress has actually been on record about her own past with the eating disorder. Collins reportedly accepted the role to spread awareness. But while critics have praised her performance, along with the film itself, others have suggested that “To the Bone” could have a negative influence on people with eating disorders. Some have even argued that the film promotes the wrong kind of “tips” for people that struggle with anorexia and bulimia.


#3: “Making a Murderer” (2015-)



Just the title alone makes this Netflix Original controversial, but it’s the unresolved plot that keeps people talking. “Making a Murderer” focuses on Steven Avery, a man that served 18 years in prison for sexual assault and attempted murder, only to be released because of DNA evidence. The 10-part series covers various aspects of Avery’s legal troubles, including his 2007 conviction for murder. “Making a Murderer” takes place over 10 years, and it sheds light on a killer’s motives while simultaneously exposing flaws in the legal system.


#2: “Dear White People” (2017-)



When Netflix released the first trailer for Justin Simien’s series, it rubbed some people the wrong way. The YouTube clip actually had more “dislikes” than “likes.” Even so, “Dear White People” currently has a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as critics have praised the series for its blunt yet insightful approach. Given the title, many have taken offense to the alleged “anti-white” rhetoric, while others have reminded that it’s primarily focused on a black girl’s experience at a mostly-white college. Since the beginning, “Dear White People” has kept people engaged about modern racial politics.


#1: “13 Reasons Why” (2017-)



Based on Jay Asher’s 2007 novel, this Netflix Original addresses the effects of teenage bullying. More specifically, it’s about a high school girl’s suicide, a topic that “13 Reasons Why” has been accused of glorifying. With Selena Gomez as a co-executive producer, the series has an undeniable influence amongst younger viewers. But numerous mental health organizations have expressed concern about the film’s narrative and graphic nature, suggesting that it could increase suicide rather than prevent it. “13 Reasons Why” has been praised for its vision, yet it’s also been heavily criticized for its premise, making it a culturally relevant Netflix Original.
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