'Sick and Unacceptable': Netflix's Satirical 'Roast' of Anne Frank Draws Fire

Some viewers, particularly in the Netherlands, have called to boycott streaming platform for milking the Holocaust for laughs

Itay Stern
Itay Stern
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Screengrab from Netflix's 'Historical Roast' of Anne Frank.
Screengrab from Netflix's 'Historical Roast' of Anne Frank.Credit: Screengrab/Netflix
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

A Netflix comedy series released Monday featuring Dutch Holocaust victim Anne Frank drew criticism from viewers, with some calling to boycott the streaming platform for what they see as its decision to milk Frank's story for laughs.

Freddie Mercury, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., are also featured in "Historical Roasts," in which historical figures are mocked by top comedians.

>> Read more: Hidden pages of Anne Frank’s diary reveal racy jokesNot only a raging, spitting, fanatic: Depicting the real Hitler on screen is key to identifying the next oneUnrequited love and close calls with Nazis: The story behind the ‘Anne Frank of Budapest’

Host Jeff Ross — sporting a yellow armband with a Star of David — kicks off the series' third episode with a monologue in which he explains why Frank deserves a roast, as a solo clarinet plays "Hava Nagila" slowly and mournfully.

"I only kid the ones I love, and Anne Frank is close to my heart," Ross says. "When we talk about the Holocaust we always say 'Never forget,' yet genocides continue to take place all over the world."

Frank, played by a smiling, affable Rachel Feinstein, then walks onstage and takes her seat, and her "roasters" are introduced: World War II-era President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler, who Ross calls, with a smile, “the meanest man in history.”

Alongside jokes about Roosevelt’s ignoring what the Nazis were doing in Europe (“If you’re offended by anything you see tonight, just do what FDR did and look the other way”), there are jokes about Hitler’s failure as an artist and the fact that he had only one testicle. When Hitler, played by Gilbert Gottfried, takes the stage, he says that before he was sent to hell, he hid out in Brazil with Dr. Josef Mengele, where “We had a great time just drinking pina coladas and gluing midgets together.”

While some Twitter users found the episode to be funny and refreshingly irreverent, others called for viewers to boycott Netflix and cancel their subscriptions, with anger over Frank's episode particularly fierce in the Netherlands.

“That ‘joke’ or ‘roast’ or whatever you want to call it on Anne Frank is sickening ... repulsive! Netflix should be ashamed #anti-Semitism,” Dutch user DJ Elroy wrote on Twitter. A user named Nathan Dobbe wrote, in Dutch: “#roast #annfrank is disrespectful.”

Screengrab from Netflix's 'Historical Roast' of Anne Frank. Credit: Screengrab/Netflix

Another user named gudrun v Steenbergen tweeted in Dutch: “Netflix not in my house,” along with the hashtag #tasteless. Joost de Vries tweeted, also in Dutch: “It’s sick. Unacceptable. And evidence of so little class. Shame on you Netflix.”

Americans have also expressed disgust over the episode, and some argued that having Hitler roast Frank demonstrates an insensitivity to history.

In addition to this satirical show, Netflix offers numerous documentaries about the Holocaust, World War II and Hitler himself.

Netflix Israel has not responded to requests for comments.

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