Netflix continues to be at the center of controversy. The streaming platform received a barrage of criticism after airing an episode of Ridley Jones in which a bison, Winifred, defined herself as non-binary.
It happened in the eighth episode of the fifth season of the children's show. Entitled Happy Herd Day, the episode featured the conversation between the animal, named Winifred, and her grandmother Dottie, voiced by singer Cyndi Lauper. In the talk, the animal identified herself as "non-binary" and stated that she preferred to be called Fred. She further stated that she used "they/them" pronouns because "referring to me as 'she' or 'he' does not define how I identify myself."
Netflix has "quietly cancelled" Ridley Jones, a children's show which features a bison who comes out as non-binary to its grandmother after facing criticism Daily Mail reported.
(Video: DM) pic.twitter.com/MbWuH5DcwG
— Apex World News (@apexworldnews) March 15, 2023
The clip continued with the grandmother encouraging Fred to show her true self because, she said, the little bison would be unable to lead the herd if she didn't accept herself as she is:
Oh, I had no idea, now I understand why you were having trouble.... How could you lead the herd if you are not yourself? Sorry for using the wrong name and pronouns... Thank you for opening your heart to me.
The scene generated controversy among several users who quickly criticized the children's show, which was aimed at an audience between three and six years old. Many critiques came from people who, after watching the episode, ensured that they would unsubscribe from the platform:
A new Netflix show tells children to question their sex and pronouns… this is beyond gross
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) March 14, 2023
A non-binary bison cartoon for preschoolers? Seeds of confusion are being sown into children, this needs to stop.https://t.co/ZMBlMeuQDh
— Dan Cameron (@dan_cameron99) March 18, 2023
I can’t get over how much this sucks. Cancel your Netflix subscription. pic.twitter.com/PcGwXAWDMl
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) March 14, 2023
Netflix cancels 'Riley Jones'
Shortly after the episode aired, news broke that Netflix had decided to drop Ridley Jones. Its creator, Chris Nee, a lesbian woman, said that the cancellation was motivated by the controversy surrounding Fred, the little non-binary bison. The series, however, is still available on the platform:
Doesn't surprise me that Netflix has quietly dumped the first preschool show that has a non-binary character coming out. Ridley Jones 5 episode Happy Herd Day Fred tells their Grandma played by #CyndiLauper that they've changed their name and pronouns. Watch it. Tweet about it. pic.twitter.com/IUQ05ftshb
— Chris Nee (She/Her)🏳️🌈 (@chrisdocnee) March 8, 2023
According to Chris Nee, Netflix had decided from the beginning not to promote this episode, as the platform knew it would generate controversy, which it preferred to avoid.
I realize in this day and age dumped means many things. Just zero promotion of the episode. So go watch it. Show your kids. It's on Netflix. It's important. It's a a roadmap for coming out but also for having someone else tell you they've changed their pronouns and/or name. pic.twitter.com/D7r4Ym8Scp
— Chris Nee (She/Her)🏳️🌈 (@chrisdocnee) March 9, 2023
However, days later, the creator who is also behind the series Vampirina and Doctor Toys changed her version of the events and said that the cancellation was never due to the controversy, but that they knew that the animated series would come to an end a year before the controversial episode was broadcast:
We knew a year ago that we wouldn't make more episodes of Ridley Jones. We'd made the standard # of episodes for a Netflix show, so a full run. Happy Herd Day aired this month. Zero connection.
— Chris Nee (She/Her)🏳️🌈 (@chrisdocnee) March 18, 2023