Netflix has removed four Chris Lilley comedies from its platform in Australia and New Zealand: We Can Be Heroes, Summer Heights High, Angry Boys and Jonah From Tonga.
Two other shows from Lilley, Ja’mie: Private School Girl and Lunatics, a Netflix Original, remain on the streamer.
While Netflix has yet to publicly comment on its decision to pull the shows, it comes amid renewed criticism of the comedian’s portrayal of non-white characters using blackface and brownface. Variety reports that the removal of the shows will be permanent.
The series see Lilley play characters such as African-American rapper S.mouse (Angry Boys), Tongan schoolboy Jonah Takalua (Summer Heights High, Jonah From Tonga), Japanese mother Jen Okazaki (Angry Boys) and Chinese physics student Ricky Wong (We Can Be Heroes).
We Can Be Heroes and Summer Heights High were commissioned by the ABC, Angry Boys by the ABC and the US’s HBO, and Jonah From Tonga a co-production between the ABC, HBO and the UK’s BBC3. Each was produced by Princess Pictures.
Netflix’s decision to pull the four shows follows a similar move from the BBC yesterday to take down Little Britain and Come Fly With Me from its iPlayer service, which Stan has echoed locally.
In the US, HBO Max has removed 1939’s Gone With The Wind from its service, though it is said to be returning with a disclaimer.
The removal of these productions comes in the wake of recent Black Lives Matter protests around the world, sparked by the death of US man George Floyd in police custody.
In 2017, Jonah From Tonga was cut from New Zealand’s Māori Television and the then NZ minister for Pacific peoples Alfred Ngaro said the series perpetuated “negative stereotypes”.
In the same year, Lilley issued an apology after he shared a music video he made for S’Mouse titled ‘Squashed N***a’ on social media a week after the court case presiding over the death Indigenous teenager Elijah Doughty, in which a man who ran over and killed Doughty was acquitted of manslaughter.