Netflix’s Controversial Cleopatra Documentary Scores Just 2% On Rotten Tomatoes

One of Netflix’s new documentaries, Queen Cleopatra, has debuted with a rather awful 2% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

It comes after the show was met with a huge backlash after it faced accusations of ‘blackwashing’. So much so, that Netflix were even forced to turn off comments on the docuseries’ trailer.

Credit: Netflix

The synopsis for the documentary reads: “From Executive Producer Jada Pinkett Smith comes a documentary series exploring the lives of prominent and iconic African Queens.

“This season will feature Queen Cleopatra, the world’s most famous, powerful, and misunderstood woman — a daring queen whose beauty and romances came to overshadow her real asset: her intellect.

“Cleopatra’s heritage has been the subject of much academic debate, which has often been ignored by Hollywood. Now our series re-assesses this fascinating part of her story.”

However, the new series has been met with backlash. Per the BBC, a lawyer has filed a complaint accusing the docuseries of violating media laws and claiming it is trying to “erase the Egyptian identity”.

Actress Adele James has been cast as Cleopatra, and has defended the casting choice, saying: “If you don’t like the casting, don’t watch the show.”

The show’s producer has also hit back, saying “her heritage is highly debated”.

Cleopatra’s heritage is recorded as having been of Greek Macedonian heritage, with common historical records showing her family, the Ptolemaic dynasty, as having ruled over the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt for 3 centuries.

“Despite not being ethnically Egyptian,” says, “Cleopatra embraced many of her country’s ancient customs and was the first member of the Ptolemaic line to learn the Egyptian language.”

Former antiquities minister and prominent Egyptologist Zahi Hawass has blasted the adaptation. Per the BBC, he told the al-Masry al-Youm newspaper: “This is completely fake. Cleopatra was Greek, meaning that she was light-skinned, not Black.”

He continued: “Netflix is trying to provoke confusion by spreading false and deceptive facts that the origin of the Egyptian civilisation is black.”

The backlash Netflix have received for the documentary has been so huge that the streaming service was forced to remove comments on the series’ new trailer.

UNILAD also reports that there was a petition calling for the show to be cancelled for ‘falsifying history’. It reportedly hit 85,000 signatures before being removed from the site.

It read: “Cleopatra was born in Alexandria, Egypt in the Ptolemaic dynasty to Greek descent. She was NOT Black. This is in no way against Black people, and is simply a wake up call to preserve the history and the integrity of the Egyptians and the Greeks.”

And now the show is finally out, it seems there is no letting up for its critics.

The show debuted with a score of just 2% out of a possible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes for the audience score. It didn’t fare much better in terms of the critics’ score either, coming in at 10%.

“It is patchy sub-Game of Thrones cosplay interwoven with academics you’ve never heard of,” Camilla Long of The Times wrote of the new docuseries.

Whereas Chris Joyce of Movies and Munchies said: “While the information is comprehensive, the presentation works against the scholarly authority by creating melodramatic sequences with cringey sequences that come across as fiction rather than fact.”

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