New Netflix Documentary Bombs Amidst Controversy

Netflix’s recently released documentary series, “Queen Cleopatra,” has stirred up a significant amount of controversy and debate. The series, which is part of the African Queens collection, explores the life and reign of Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Egypt. However, it is the casting choice and historical accuracy that have sparked intense discussions among viewers and critics alike.

The decision to cast Adele James, a black actress, in the role of Cleopatra has drawn accusations of “blackwashing” and ignited a heated debate. Historically, Cleopatra has been depicted as of Macedonian-Greek descent, not black. However, Tina Gharvi, the creator of the series, defended the casting choice, arguing for the inclusion of diverse perspectives in historical portrayals. Gharvi believes that Cleopatra’s proximity to whiteness has been used to assign value, and casting a melanated actress challenges these preconceptions.

Despite the intention to present a fresh perspective on Cleopatra’s life, “Queen Cleopatra” has received overwhelmingly negative reviews from audiences. Currently, the documentary holds a meager 2% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which Forbes has deemed the lowest in the site’s history. In contrast, the average Tomatometer score, which calculates the number of favorable reviews from critics, stands at 10%.

A significant number of audience reviews express disappointment with the series, claiming it lacks historical accuracy. Many argue that Cleopatra was indeed of Macedonian-Greek descent and believe that presenting her as black is historically inaccurate. Some viewers perceive the casting choice as an attempt to push a particular narrative of black female empowerment rather than an authentic portrayal of Cleopatra’s life.

The controversy surrounding Netflix’s “Queen Cleopatra” documentary highlights the ongoing tension between artistic interpretation and historical accuracy. While the decision to cast a black actress in the role of Cleopatra has sparked debate and drawn accusations of “blackwashing,” the creator of the series defends the choice as a means to challenge traditional narratives and expand representation.



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