After a major backlash, Dave Chappelle’s ‘The Closer’ lands Emmy nominations

A man in a black leather suit holding a microphone.
Dave Chappelle in his Netflix comedy special “The Closer.”
(Mathieu Bitton / Netflix)

Dave Chappelle’s comedy special “The Closer,” which ignited a massive backlash on social media and a staff revolt at Netflix last fall, has been nominated for two Emmy Awards.

The program, widely criticized for Chappelle’s transphobic commentary, received Emmy nods Tuesday morning for pre-recorded variety special and directing for a variety special. Rounding out the pre-recorded variety special category are “Adele: One Night Only” (CBS), “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts” (HBO Max), “Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special” (Netflix) and “One Last Time: An Evening with Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga” (CBS).

Nominated in the directing category opposite Stan Lathan (“The Closer”) are Paul Dugdale (“Adele: One Night Only”), Bo Burnham (“Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel”), Norm Macdonald and Jeff Tomsic (“Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special”) and Hamish Hamilton (“The Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show”).

After “The Closer” began streaming on Netflix in October, many in the LGBTQ+ community — including some Netflix employees — and beyond condemned the streaming giant for releasing the special. During the taped show, Chappelle declared himself “Team TERF” in support of “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who has been labeled a trans-exclusionary radical feminist for repeatedly expressing antitrans views.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community were not pleased with comedian Dave Chappelle co-signing J.K. Rowling’s transphobic remarks in his new Netflix special.

Oct. 6, 2021

He also made insensitive quips about discriminatory laws forcing trans people to use bathrooms matching the gender they were assigned at birth, as well as gay people and the larger LGBTQ+ community — which he referred to consistently and incorrectly as the LBGTQ community.


Less than a month after “The Closer” premiered on Netflix, members of the company’s trans employee resource group and allies staged a walkout in Los Angeles to protest the release of the special. Demonstrators demanded the streaming giant set aside a fund supporting trans and nonbinary talent and attach a disclaimer to “The Closer” saying it “contains transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia, and hate speech,” among other requests.

With so much television, the Emmy nominations were bound to have snubs and surprises. Voters did not disappoint.

July 12, 2022

“When I thought about why I’m participating in this [walkout], it’s [so] that my son does not grow up with content that says that it hates me,” said B. Pagels-Minor, a former leader of Netflix’s Black@ and Trans* employee resource groups who was fired by the company for allegedly leaking sensitive information to the press amid the Chappelle fallout. (Pagels-Minor has denied the allegation.)

“I want my child to grow up in a world where they see that their parent, a Black, trans person — because I exist, contrary to what the special says, contrary to what many people say — that I’m valued, and I’m an important person.”

In response to the criticism, Chappelle has both cheered and decried his “cancellation” while Netflix has continued to stand by and collaborate with the veteran comedian.

Past winners ‘Succession’ and ‘Ted Lasso’ and newcomers ‘Squid Game’ and ‘Abbott Elementary’ were among the leading 2022 Emmy nominees.

July 12, 2022


“I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said,” Chappelle said in an Instagram video addressing the firestorm in October.

“My God, how could I not? You said you wanted a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”

“We are trying to support creative freedom and artistic expression among the artists that work at Netflix,” Netflix co-Chief Executive Ted Sarandos said in an October interview with Variety. “Because we’re trying to entertain the world, and the world is made up of folks with a lot of different sensibilities and beliefs and senses of humor and all those things ... there will be things on Netflix that you dislike.”