Netflix’s Queen Cleopatra received a 1% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes, amid a row of ongoing ‘blackwashing’.
The documentary, part of the African Queens series, is an exploration of the rise and fall of Egypt’s last pharaoh and was released on May 10.
It addresses issues such as his relationships and legacy, which is debated, as well as his political work.
The show has been the subject of ‘blackwashing’ claims after a black actress was cast in the lead role, Adele James, 37, despite historical documents showing she was Macedonian-Greek.
After four days on Rotten Tomatoes, Queen Cleopatra only achieved a 1% viewership rating – apparently the worst ever documented, according to Forbes.
Slammed: Netflix’s Queen Cleopatra has been slammed by the public as she received a 1% Rotten Tomatoes score after four days on the site – amid a row of ‘black whitewashes’
Story: The documentary, part of the African Queens series, is an exploration of the rise and fall of Egypt’s last pharaoh and was released on May 10.
Controversy: In the show, Cleopatra is portrayed as black, despite historical records showing she was of Macedonian Greek descent
The publication said: “Fans generally rate things higher than reviews, even bad shows, and the fact is that a 1% audience score seems mathematically impossible, even with the controversy the film has generated. “
Producer Jada Pinkett Smith said she wanted to tell the story of Cleopatra because “we don’t often get to see or hear stories about black queens”.
In the trailer, which was released in April, it claims Cleopatra was black with “curly hair.”
A historian says in the preview: “I remember my grandmother telling me: I don’t care what you are told at school, Cleopatra was black.
An Egyptian lawyer has filed a complaint with the country’s prosecutor demanding the closure of Netflix.
Cairo’s former minister of antiquities, Zahi Hawass, called the documentary “completely fake”.
They said, “Cleopatra was Greek, which means she was light-skinned, not black.”
Zahi said the only rulers of Egypt known to have been black were the Kushite kings of the 25th Dynasty (747-656 BC).
He said, “Netflix is trying to cause confusion by spreading false and misleading facts that the origin of Egyptian civilization is black.”
In April, Mahmoud al-Semary filed a complaint with the public prosecutor demanding that he take “the necessary legal measures” to block access to Netflix.
He alleged the show featured content that violated Egyptian media laws and accused Netflix of trying to “promote Afrocentric thought…which includes slogans and writing aimed at distorting and erasing Egyptian identity.” .
Cleopatra was played by white English actress Elizabeth Taylor alongside Richard Burton as Mark Anthony in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1963 historical epic.
Cast: Cleopatra was played by white English actress Elizabeth Taylor alongside Richard Burton as Mark Anthony in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1963 historical epic
Three years ago, plans for a new film about the Queen starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot sparked a backlash from people insisting the role should go to an Egyptian or African actress .
Gal defended the decision, saying, “We were looking for a Macedonian actress who could be a good fit for Cleopatra. She wasn’t there and I was very passionate about Cleopatra.
The official two-minute trailer uploaded on April 12 caused so much controversy that Netflix was forced to disable comments.
Author Kemi Owonibi tweeted: “For the umpteenth time Egyptian Queen Cleopatra was not Egyptian”.
“She was Greek!” Cleopatra VII was white – of Macedonian descent, as were all the rulers of Ptolemy, who lived in Egypt.
Another added: ‘Netflix is - again – black washing a historically white character, this time it’s Queen Cleopatra who is turned into a black woman despite the fact that we know she was white – of Macedonian descent / Greek, as did all the rulers of the Ptolemy dynasty.’
A third said: “Cleopatra was NOT black, she was the GREEK queen of Egypt and is a beautiful link between Greek and Egyptian civilizations.”
Egyptian actress and singer Somaya Elkhashab tweeted: “Identifying Queen Cleopatra as black to fulfill modern African-American fantasies is pure theft of Egyptian history and yet an attempt to rewrite the greats of history.
“Blacking out a Greek queen proves the obsession with white women and it would do nothing to stop racism.”
However, another said: “Well it looks like Jada Pinkett Smith has some people on edge because of her upcoming documentary on Netflix. It’s called #QueenCleopatra and will air on May 10.
“The problem is that Cleopatra is portrayed as a black woman and some don’t like that.” Personally, I can’t wait to see it!
Cleopatra was the companion of Alexander the Great, famous for her marriages and her affairs with Marc Antony and Julius Caesar.
Her first language was Greek although she was the only Ptolemaic ruler to use the Egyptian language.
Actress Adele previously responded by telling people not to watch the show if they didn’t like the cast.
She tweeted: ‘Just FYI this kind of behavior will not be tolerated on my account. You will be blocked without hesitation!!! If you don’t like the cast, don’t watch the show.
“Or make and commit to an (expert) opinion different from your own. Either way, I AM GASED and will continue to be!
The official synopsis reads: “From executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith, a new documentary series explores the lives of prominent and iconic African queens.
Main role: Adele plays Cleopatra and has previously warned people to ‘don’t watch’ the show if they don’t like the cast
Backlash: Twitter users reacted in fury after watching the trailer, with one calling it ‘the theft of Egyptian history’
“This season will feature Cleopatra, the world’s most famous, powerful and misunderstood woman – a daring queen whose beauty and romances have come to eclipse her true asset: her intellect.
“Cleopatra’s legacy has been the subject of much academic debate, often ignored by Hollywood. Now our series re-evaluates this fascinating part of its history.
This comes after the first installment of the African Queens series was released in February on Njinga.
The show earned a critics score of 88% and an audience score of 22%.