Did Netflix Bow to ‘Cancel Culture’ in Decision to Silently Kill a Beloved Children’s Show?

Ridley Jones on Netflix

In a surprising move, Netflix has quietly canceled the popular children’s series Ridley Jones after five successful seasons.

The decision comes after the show faced a fierce backlash over the inclusion of a non-binary character in one of its episodes.

Despite its critical acclaim and numerous award nominations, Ridley Jones became a target of controversy, with some accusing the series of promoting a “woke agenda.” Let’s delve into the reasons behind Netflix’s decision to cancel the show and explore the implications it has for the industry and its creators.

The Outcry and the Fall From Grace

The cancellation of Ridley Jones was announced by the show’s creator, Chris Nee, who took to Twitter to express her disappointment.

Nee revealed that Netflix had released the fifth and final season without any significant promotion, effectively burying the series. She further lamented that it was no surprise Netflix had quietly dumped the first preschool show to feature a non-binary character.

The controversy surrounding Ridley Jones began when the eighth episode of the latest season introduced a non-binary bison named Fred, who comes out to their grandmother.

“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,” Nee tweeted.

Clips from the episode quickly circulated online, igniting a storm of criticism from some viewers who believed the show was pushing a “woke agenda.”

The negative reception grew, with calls for the show’s cancellation gaining traction.

Nee, known for her work on Disney’s successful series Doc McStuffins, passionately defended Ridley Jones, emphasizing the importance of inclusive storytelling and encouraging people to watch the episode and engage in constructive discussions. Despite the support from many fans and the show’s notable achievements, the wave of opposition ultimately led to its demise.

The Awards and Legacy

Ridley Jones garnered significant acclaim throughout its run, receiving nominations for prestigious awards such as GLAAD Media Awards, Kidscreen Awards, and the Children’s & Family Emmy Awards. The series even secured wins for “Best Animation” and “Best Voice Talent” at the 2022 Kidscreen Awards, in addition to a Narrative & Animated TV award from ReFrame. These accolades showcased the show’s quality and demonstrated the positive impact it had on its audience.

“I know what it is to be ‘othered’. My job is to show the world as I want it to be,” Nee said when the show launched in 2021. “I’m so insanely proud to introduce Fred, a nonbinary bison played by Ezra Menas. Fred is one of our most lovable leads.”

The cancellation of Ridley Jones marks a significant blow to Nee, who has proven her ability to create beloved and impactful children’s content. “This is the first show I brought to Netflix. I really wanted to do a series where a girl was the action-adventure star I always wanted to see (or be) when I was growing up,” she lamented.

“Like so many of my shows, this world is a perfect canvas upon which to create a community of oddball characters and model what it means to take care of each other, even if you aren’t from the same era of time or wing of the museum.”

Despite this setback, Nee’s track record and talent suggest that she will continue to produce remarkable and inclusive stories for young viewers.

The Controversy of Cancel Culture

Netflix’s decision to cancel Ridley Jones has sparked discussions about the influence of cancel culture in the entertainment industry. Some argue that the swift cancellation of shows due to online backlash stifles creativity and prevents the exploration of important and often marginalized narratives. Others contend that it is vital for content creators to be held accountable for the messages they convey, especially in programming aimed at impressionable audiences.

As cancel culture continues to shape the entertainment landscape, it raises questions about the balance between creative freedom and responsible storytelling. The Ridley Jones controversy serves as a poignant example of the challenges faced by creators who strive to push boundaries and promote inclusivity.

The cancellation of Ridley Jones by Netflix after five seasons has left fans disappointed and has reignited debates surrounding cancel culture in the entertainment industry. Despite the show’s critical acclaim and numerous accolades, it succumbed to controversy over its inclusion of a non-binary character.

As the industry evolves, it is crucial to foster an environment that encourages inclusive storytelling while navigating the complexities of public opinion. The legacy of Ridley Jones will endure, and its cancellation serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by creators in a rapidly changing media landscape.

Alexis Nicols

Alexis is a full-time writer, graphic designer and mom in Ontario, Canada. She's obsessed with all things related to film, TV and streaming, particularly through the lens of her two boys.

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