‘Transphobic as f**k’ Futurama episode leaves a sour taste in Disney Plus viewers’ mouth

Maggie Baska February 23, 2021
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Futurama Bender trans 3004 Olympics

Robot Bender undergoes surgery in order to compete as a female robot in the 3004 Olympic Games. (20th Century Fox Film Corporation)

A ‘transphobic’ Futurama episode landed with the series on Disney Plus Star, leaving a sour taste in fans’ mouths.

Disney Plus‘ Star launched in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, bringing an entire slate of more adult-themed content to the streamer.

This includes 10 seasons of The Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s sci-fi comedy Futurama.

While fans were largely excited by the new additions, a few highlighted a particularly problematic anti-trans Futurama episode.

The “transphobic as f**k” episode follows Bender, a male robot, transitioning to compete as a woman in the 3004 Olympics.

While people in the comments were quick to point out that this is a cartoon about a man who was frozen for 1,000 years and wakes up in a future filled with robots, others insisted it is an issue.

One fan of the show admitted there is “problematic content” in Futurama which he was “not sure why it was ever considered acceptable”.

One viewer, who is trans, said it was “baffling” that another episode of Futurama featured a “tentacle monster that used neopronouns, and they didn’t make fun of that at all” but that “every trans person in the show is a hideous caricature”.

What’s the ‘transphobic’ Futurama episode all about?

In Futurama‘s fourth season episode “Bend Her”, Bender, a licentious male-presenting robot, attends the Earth 3004 Olympic Games. He feels that he should compete as well, but feels emasculated by the male Olympic robots. So he decides to pose a “fembot” – female robot – named Coilette to compete.

Coilette easily defeats the female competitors, winning five gold medals.

However, the medalists are called in for gender testing before the awards ceremony, and Bender decides to undergo an operation that will turn him into a fembot. As the fembot Coilette, Bender starts dating robot actor Calculon, who falls for Coilette instantly.

Bender originally wants to rob Calculon of his money with a divorce settlement, but he is moved by Calculon’s deep love for Coilette. Ultimately, he stages Coilette’s death and undergoes a second operation to return to his male identity.

At the end of the episode, Bender claims to not have been changed at all by the experience, but he whispers a heartfelt goodbye to Calculon.

While the cartoon was meant for comedic purposes, one person on Twitter rightly pointed out: “Harmful stereotypes are still harmful regardless of what it is”.

Related topics: Futurama, matt groening

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