Chris Lilley Netflix character causes controversy over potential blackface

Chris LilleyChris Lilley is coming to Netflix, but one of his characters is stirring up controversy online. Netflix released a trailer introducing the characters Lilley will portray on the new series, Lunatics.

Lunatics will premiere on April 19 and feature Lilley playing six different characters in first season’s 10 episodes. Lilley rose to prominence when his show Summer Heights High became a cult hit. He later made Ja’mie: Private School Girl based on the break out character of Ja’mie in Summer Heights High.

While many of Lilley’s characters in Lunatics seem fun and silly, the character of Jana is causing heads to turn online.

While the teaser doesn’t disclose much about the character, she is supposedly a South African lesbian pet psychic. While portraying the character, Lilley seems to wear blackface. While it is not confirmed that Jana is supposed to be black, it seems very likely given the press photos of the character.

Chris Lilley’s controversial history

This is not the first time Lilley has controversially worn blackface. He caused an incident with an Instagram video in 2017. The video showed the Big Bite star in blackface singing a song called Squashed N**ga while in character for his series Angry Boys. Lilley’s account posted the video days after the death of a young indigenous boy was hit by a car.

Some said the video mocked the young boy’s death, but Lilley denied that the two incidents were related and said that he did not run his own social media.

His show Jonah from Tonga and the character of Jonah himself has also caused controversy with many saying the character is racist.

Lunatics character may not be what she seems

Lunatics promises to explore characters that are not what they seem at first sight, which might mean Jana comes off better than she does in the trailer, but more likely this character will cause more controversy when the show premieres. Of course, there is a difference between being a racist and portraying a racist. Time will tell if viewers should be upset with Lilley himself or with Jana the pet psychic. Or both.

You can watch the full trailer below.

Rosa Escandon

I am a stand up comic and writer living in Brooklyn, NY. When I'm not on stage, I am Comedy Editor for The Tusk, sit on the board of the Cinder Block Comedy Festival, and writing my next project. I am passionate about writing about feminism and comedy as well as how women, LBGTQ people, and minorities are changing the face of comedy and entertainment. You may have seen me on Buzzfeed Video, Seriously.TV, aplus, or maybe just on twitter.

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