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Netflix Permanently Pulls Four Chris Lilley Shows Over Racial Depictions

Chris Lilley, Jonah From Tonga
Princess Pictures / Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Netflix has removed four comedy shows featuring outspoken Australian performer Chris Lilley from its platform in Australia and New Zealand.

Lilley’s questionable depictions of characters in a range of shows have previously raised questions about racial discrimination. Now they have run afoul of the global reevaluation of Black people’s position in society, and their on-screen portrayal, following the death of George Floyd in the custody of U.S. law enforcement.

Netflix offered no direct comment on the matter, but confirmed to Variety that four shows starring Lilley have been removed permanently. Unlike HBO Max’s treatment of classic film “Gone With the Wind,” the four shows will not return with a disclaimer or other warning.

Deadline previously reported that the four programs include “Angry Boys,” “Summer Heights High,” “We Can Be Heroes” and “Jonah From Tonga.” They were originally produced by Princess Pictures for public broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Lilley also features in the series “Ja’mie: Private School Girl” and Netflix original “Lunatics,” which features a South African character called Jana. Both will remain on the service.

Australia has a significant proportion of indigenous people, previously referred to as Aboriginal people. Following the lead of the U.S. in response to the Floyd killing, several Australian cities have seen large-scale marches and demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

These have taken place, in some cases, despite pleas from federal and state officials for them not to go ahead, as they would likely breach social distancing rules and increase the chance of spreading the coronavirus.

In Sydney, the country’s largest city, a weekend demonstration was initially banned by the state authorities. But that was overturned by a New South Wales court of appeal as crowds were already massing. The rally went ahead largely peacefully, though the police used pepper spray on a few stragglers who had reportedly thrown bottles at the officers.