Netflix apologises for ‘hurtful and derogatory’ character in new Neil Patrick Harris series
Netflix has apologised for the planned inclusion of a “hurtful and derogatory” Latina character in the upcoming Neil Patrick Harris comedy Uncoupled.
Prolific actor Ada Maris called out Netflix after she received a script for Uncoupled that included a housekeeper character named Carmen, who spoke in broken English and was described as “hysterical”.
The series comes from Darren Star, creator of Sex and the City and Emily in Paris, and stars Harris as a gay man whose husband suddenly leaves him. Harris is also an executive producer on the show.
Maris was given the script for the show by her agent, and was upset to discover the “hurtful and derogatory” character. She told Variety: “I was shocked because I walked in expecting something very different given the way things are nowadays and the progress we’ve made.”
The actor, best-known for the sitcoms Nurses and The Brothers Garcia, penned an open letter to Harris and Star asking them to “recognise the harm” done by the one-dimensional portrayal.
“I just want [writers] to think the next time they write a character like that,” she wrote, per Variety. “I’m speaking out for the younger actors coming up so they face even less of that than my generation has. These media images shape our ides of ourselves. That’s why it’s really important that the portrayals be more realistic, not hurtful. We need to see ourselves more like we really are.”
Maris added: “You are modern gay men. How would you like to watch or play an outdated, offensively stereotypical gay part?”
Netflix has now cut the character from the series, telling Variety: “We’re sorry that Ms. Maris had a negative experience, and this character will not appear in the series.”
It’s unclear whether the character was cut in direct response to Maris’ objections. Maris told Entertainment Weekly it was “gratifying to learn that the original character has been cut from the show” but asked why the producers didn’t take the opportunity to add another Latina character in Carmen’s place.
The series is due to hit Netflix in 2022 after it began filming in late October.