Netflix's Queen Cleopatra receives 2% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes

Casting of mixed-race actress Adele James as the Egyptian queen has been criticised

Adele James as Queen Cleopatra. Photo: Netflix
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Netflix docuseries Queen Cleopatra has been slammed by audiences less than a week after its premiere, receiving a 2 per cent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes as of Tuesday afternoon.

The four-part series has been panned in particular for its casting of mixed-race British actress Adele James as Egypt's last pharaoh.

Queen Cleopatra is certified rotten, according to Rotten Tomatoes' “Tomatometer”, with a 10 per cent rating after 10 reviews.

It has so far fared even worse with the general audience. The series had a rating as low as 1 per cent before inching to 2 per cent after 5,000 audience reviews, with most of the negative reviews centred around its historical inaccuracies.

“Netflix's Cleopatra documentary fails to do justice to the fascinating life and legacy of one of history's most captivating figures,” reads one review.

Other reviews called it a “fantasy series”.

The decision to cast Cleopatra as a black African was criticised by audiences and by Egypt's former minister of state for antiquities Zahi Hawass, who told Al Masry Al Youm that the depiction was fake.

Mr Hawass said that Cleopatra was Greek, and therefore not a black woman. A member of the Ptolemaic dynasty with links to Alexander the Great, she ruled Egypt between 51 and 30BC.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said Cleopatra's depiction on coins and statues indicate that her features were not black African.

Jada Pinkett Smith, the show's producer, has yet to make a public statement.

A lawyer in Egypt has filed a lawsuit against Netflix, and accused it of trying to “erase the Egyptian identity”, the BBC reported, while lawyer Mahmoud Al Semary said Queen Cleopatra included content that violated Egypt's media laws.

An Egyptian television network has announced plans to produce a documentary film that will include a panel of experts on history, archaeology and anthropology.

Updated: May 17, 2023, 6:09 AM