Top 10 Biggest Netflix Scandals



Top 10 Biggest Netflix Scandals

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Netflix has overcome many scandals, but is the streaming giant too big to fail? For this list, we'll be looking at controversies and criticisms that this streaming giant has faced over the years. Our countdown includes Netflix Animation, Disney removes content, Oscar eligibility, and more!
Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Netflix Scandals

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Netflix Scandals.

For this list, we’ll be looking at controversies and criticisms that this streaming giant has faced over the years.

Which Netflix scandal shocked you the most? Let us know in the comments.

#10: The Fox Lawsuit

Numerous talents have jumped ship from other media giants to produce content for Netflix, causing plenty of friction in the industry. A year before entering negotiations with Disney about an acquisition, 20th Century Fox filed a lawsuit against Netflix. Fox accused Netflix of illegally “poaching” two of their top executives under contract, Marco Waltenberg and Tara Flynn. A month later, Netflix fired back with a counter-suit, accusing Fox of creating “unlawful barriers.” In 2019, Judge Marc Gross ruled in Fox’s favor, preventing Netflix from soliciting employees with fixed-term employment agreements. Netflix subsequently appealed, only to lose in December 2021. Fox isn’t the only brand that Netflix has clashed with, as Viacom also sued the streaming service for enlisting Momita Sengupta, who had been under contract.

#9: Bill Cosby, No Laughing Matter

In August 2014, Netflix announced that they would distribute “Bill Cosby 77,” a standup film commemorating the comedian’s 77th birthday. A month before the film was set to release, comedian Hannibal Buress delivered a standup routine highlighting the sexual assault allegations against Cosby. As Buress’ routine went viral, more women came forward with similar allegations regarding the once renowned comedian. Netflix put the film on hold mere hours after Janice Dickinson recounted her history with Cosby. By July 2015, Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, announced that “Bill Cosby 77” was no longer coming to Netflix. Cosby would be found guilty three years later, spending another three years in prison. While Cosby has been released, don’t expect to see the film on Netflix anytime soon.

#8: Oscar Eligibility

For the longest time, it was easy to differentiate theatrical movies from TV movies. With the rise of streaming, that line has been blurred. Since Netflix has distributed numerous high-profile films, many have debated whether they should be eligible at the Oscars. To qualify for Academy Award consideration, a film must play in L.A. for a minimum of seven consecutive days with three daily showings. For the Oscar hopeful “Roma,” Netflix released the film theatrically for three weeks before making it available at home. Despite meeting the requirements, industry leaders like Steven Spielberg argued that streaming releases belong at the Emmys. Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic just around the corner, streaming suddenly went from a luxury to a necessity in the cinematic experience.

#7: Disney Removes Content

Netflix and Disney - a beautiful partnership that wasn’t built to last. In late-2012, the Mouse House entered an exclusive streaming deal with Netflix. Classic Disney films were quickly made available on Netflix. Starting in 2016, newer Disney releases would get their first runs on Netflix. The two companies also collaborated on original Marvel shows like “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones.” In 2017, though, Disney announced that they would be moving away from Netflix to launch their own streaming service. On November 12, 2019, Disney+ officially hit the scene and the Streaming Wars became infinitely more competitive. Disney’s presence on Netflix is now virtually nonexistent. This extends to the live-action Marvel shows, which moved to Disney+ in March 2022. So, can we finally get “Daredevil” Season 4?

#6: Dave Chappelle’s “Closer” Comments

In 2016, comedian Dave Chappelle entered a multi-millionaire-dollar deal with Netflix to distribute six of his specials. His final Netflix special, appropriately titled “The Closer,” proved divisive with the main criticism concerning Chappelle’s jokes regarding the transgender community. In addition to receiving backlash from GLAAD, the National Black Justice Coalition called for the special to be pulled. Ted Sarandos stood by the special even as a few Netflix employees staged a walkout. B. Pagels-Minor, a transgender Netflix employee who helped organize the walkout, would be fired for leaking confidential information about the company. Chappelle’s rep announced that he’d be holding off on transgender jokes “until we can all laugh together.” However, the rep noted that “Dave stands by his art.”

#5: “Cuties” Controversy

The title sounds innocent enough, but “Cuties” may be the most controversial film ever to hit the Netflix library. Premiering at Sundance in 2020, this award-winning French film centers on an 11-year-old Muslim girl who joins a twerking group. “Cuties” gained more attention when Netflix picked it up and released a poster that many argued sexualized young girls. While Netflix switched out posters, the company moved forward with distributing “Cuties.” As #CancelNetflix started trending on Twitter, the film was met with widespread review bombing. The reviews from critics were much more positive, praising the film’s commentary on youth and internet culture. However, the subject matter alone was enough to attract criticism from politicians like Ted Cruz, who called for a criminal investigation.

#4: Netflix Animation

With shows like “Kid Cosmic,” “Maya and the Three,” and “The Cuphead Show!,” Netflix seemed like a limitless playground for animation. Amid skyrocketing subscription losses, though, Netflix announced in April 2022 that several highly-anticipated animated projects would be axed. This included adaptations of Jeff Smith’s “Bone” and Roald Dahl’s “The Twits,” as well as Lauren Faust’s “Toil and Trouble.” Phil Rynda, who oversaw original animation at Netflix, was let go along with some of his staff members. Many other creative talents have also departed from Netflix Animation to pursue work elsewhere. Moving forward, it appears we’re inclined to see fewer ambitious animated shows from Netflix. But don’t worry! Netflix is eager to dish out more data-friendly shows like “​​The Boss Baby: Back in Business.” Uggg.

#3: A House of Cards Collapses

There are 52 cards in a standard deck. So, it probably would’ve made sense creatively to wrap up “House of Cards” with 52 episodes and four seasons. It also could’ve saved Netflix from a PR nightmare. In October 2017, only five months after the fifth season released, star Kevin Spacey faced sexual misconduct allegations. Anthony Rapp notably accused Spacey of making unwanted advances towards him when he was only 14. Spacey was subsequently fired from the show, which moved forward with its sixth and final season. A new president would be filling the Oval Office, however. While “House of Cards” was once Netflix’s flagship drama, many feel it’s been forever tainted by the Spacey controversy. Spacey’s annual Christmas videos as Frank Underwood haven’t helped.

#2: 13 Reasons Why This Needed a Disclaimer

Based on an equally controversial book, the first season of this Netflix series centers on teenager Hannah Baker and why she ends her life. This wasn’t the only serious issue that “13 Reasons Why” tackled, but it arguably sparked the most debate. The graphic scene where Hannah commits her final act was especially divisive with some calling it “glamorized.” It’s hard to say if the show had any real-world implications, although the number of young people taking their lives reportedly increased following its release. Going forward, warning cards became a staple of the show. Actually, most shows that deal with self-harm and mental health now have similar disclaimers. Netflix would also edit Hannah’s infamous death scene in 2019, two years after the episode came out.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.

Cracking Down on Password Sharing
Those Who Share With Multiple Households May Be In for a Rude Awakening

“The Crown” Equal Pay Dispute
Claire Foy is a Queen, She Deserves to Be Treated As Such

Raising Prices
$19.99 Per Month For 4K Tier? Okay, Let’s Dive into the “Squid Game” Piggy Bank…

“Squid Game” (2021-)

So Long, “Netflix Friends”
They’ve Introduced Other Social Networking Features, But It’s Just Not the Same

Jesus in “The First Temptation” & “The Last Hangover”
And You Thought the Scorsese & Gibson Movies Were Controversial

#1: Losing 200K Subscribers

Netflix has established itself as a major player in entertainment, forever changing the game. Even giants can stumble, however. In April 2022, it was reported that Netflix had lost 200,000 subscribers in the year’s first quarter, its largest drop in nearly ten years. There are several possible reasons why: raised prices, the increase of streaming competitors, the loss of licensed shows like “The Office” and “Friends,” and the declining quality of some original content. With its stock plummeting, Netflix is expected to only lose more customers. Granted, Netflix currently has over 200 million subscribers. Remember, though, it was once hard to imagine a world without Blockbuster. Will Netflix bounce back or will we be watching a documentary about the last Netflix subscriber one day?