BY Matthew Bush, The Western JournalMay 15, 2023
1 year ago
BY 
 | May 15, 2023
1 year ago

Netflix's Black Cleopatra Show Is an Unprecedented Failure - Low Scores Break Records on Top Review Site

The new Netflix documentary series "Queen Cleopatra" has produced the lowest audience score in Netflix history.

The current Rotten Tomatoes ratings are 11 percent from critics with one out of nine positive reviews and a 2 percent audience score with 0.7 out of a 5 star average rating.

"The show has done something I didn’t think was even possible. It has not just the lowest audience score in Netflix history, it has essentially the lowest audience score possible on Rotten Tomatoes, a 1%. Not a 10%, a 1%. (Update: It just ticked up to 2%. Still an unprecedented low)," Forbes contributor Paul Tassi reported Monday.

The article goes on to describe some of the worst-rated shows that Netflix has produced, including former Netflix show "Resident Evil."

Tassi's conclusion is, "I’ve never seen anything like this. Not with bad shows. Not with politically controversial shows prone to review bombing. Never this bad, not in Netflix history. Honesty, I think not even in TV history, at least with this many reviews in."

An article from the Daily Mail compiles a few of the reviews relating to the show and sums up the reviews as follows: "Now critics have widely panned the series, with one deeming it  'a misfire' while another said they couldn't 'contain their laughter' during 'serious scenes.'"

Aside from the poor reviews concerning content and acting, the show has come under scrutiny for what a previous Western Journal article described as "race-swapping" as the lead character Cleopatra is portrayed by a black woman rather than the historically accurate Macedonian Ptolemaic descent.

"One of the most polarizing topics in all of entertainment is 'race-swapping,' or intentionally changing the race of established characters," and that is exactly what the Netflix docudrama does.

The race-swapping is so obvious that, according to the BBC, "A lawyer has filed a complaint that accuses 'African Queens: Queen Cleopatra' of violating media laws and aiming to erase the Egyptian identity."

The show's director, Tina Gharavi, continues to defend the show and the casting of Adele James, a black woman, to play Cleopatra.

"Why shouldn’t Cleopatra be a melanated sister? And why do some people need Cleopatra to be white? Her proximity to whiteness seems to give her value, and for some Egyptians it seems to really matter," Gharavi told Variety.

Gharavi continued, "So, was Cleopatra Black? We don’t know for sure, but we can be certain she wasn’t white like Elizabeth Taylor. We need to have a conversation with ourselves about our colorism, and the internalized white supremacy that Hollywood has indoctrinated us with."

Cleopatra is the second installment in the "African Queens" franchise being produced by Jada Pinkett Smith. The first installment, "African Queens: Njinga," was released in February, also to poor reviews.

According to GameRant, "'African Queens: Njinga' earned an 88% critic score from review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, significantly higher than its 22% audience score."

With the first two installments of the "African Queens" franchise flopping, it is yet to be seen if there will be a new season and if so how that season will fare with the public.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Matthew Bush, The Western Journal

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