A new Netflix docu-drama has been slammed for ‘waking up’ as viewers rate the show.
The six-part documentary Alexander: The Making Of A God has an average Google review score of just 2.5 stars, with a number of viewers complaining about its focus on the historical ruler’s sexuality.
Alexander the Great is well known as one of the most successful military men of all time, who in the fourth century BC amassed an empire from his native Macedonia to India, and also to Egypt, before he died at the age of just 32 died.
But, with the help of experts, Alexander: The Making Of A God seeks to tell his conquest through a new lens, including by exploring his relationships.
An X account called ‘End Wokeness’ gave a review the week after the January 31st release: ‘Netflix made a new documentary about Alexander The Great. Within the first 8 minutes they made him gay.’
Netflix’s Alexander: The Making Of A God Has Been Blamed For ‘Wake Up’ Because It Emphasized The Ancient Ruler’s Same-Sex Relationships
However, a post on X of an account called ‘End Wokeness’ has caused backlash as many scholars have suggested that the account in the new docudrama is largely correct
Despite the uproar, same-sex relationships were a feature of ancient Greek life, especially for powerful men
A number of negative reviews for the six-part series cited “wokeness” while criticizing it, but many also offered more general criticism of the acting, casting and storytelling.
However, that post was soon hit with a community note explaining that the Macedonian king, born in 356 BC, is widely believed by scholars to have engaged in sexual relations with other men.
One commenter on the post said: ‘I don’t think it was Netflix that made him gay.’
Men having sexual relations with each other was in fact common in ancient Greece.
In the first episode, Cardiff University Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones explained that ‘same-sex relationships were quite the norm throughout the Greek world’.
He added: ‘The Greeks didn’t have a word for homosexuality, or being gay. It just wasn’t in their vocabulary at all. There was only being sexual.’
History graduate at the University of Manchester in England Alexandra Birch previously wrote about the era for The Manchester Historian: ‘Sexual orientation was not the defining factor in sex, rather the role played by each participant: the dominant, upper class, older partner took an active role, and the younger, lower class partner took a passive one.
‘Nevertheless, homosexual men of the same class experienced social stigma as the passive role was more feminine. As a Macedonian king, Alexander could engage in sexual relations with anyone as long as he maintained the dominant role.’
Despite the early explanation, a number of other viewers were also left unsatisfied.
One posted a one-star review to Google: ‘The show starts full of homoerotics because according to Netflix, everyone is gay. 30 minutes of skippable scenes later, the show fills in on Woke Washing.
‘What is it? Every single piece of history has been made as “Safe and Inoffensive (sic)” as possible. Even the supposed “experts” were choking on their sanitized descriptions.
‘The dialogue and lines seem to have been written by a kid who grew up on memes. The “Total War” video game series has had better motivational “pre-war” speeches than this display of charged positivity.
‘Both Kings, Alexander and Darius (Alexander’s Persian adversary) were portrayed as weak and wretched. Not words and behavior you would expect from warlord rulers. The show seemed to lean more towards a pity show for Darius than a documentary of Alexander.
‘It was awful. Netflix needs to stop making shows and go back to being a streaming service.’
While Alexander the Great had at least two children and three marriages, literature about him also notes that his most prominent companion was his general and bodyguard Hephaestion.
Upon the conquest of King Darius’ Persia, Alexander is also said to have taken the former king’s eunuch Bagoas as a lover.
But his apparent love for Hephaestion continued until the bodyguard’s death, when Alexander is said to have ‘laid on his comrade weeping for a day and a night before he was driven away’.
Elaborate funeral games were held in honor of Hephaestion in Babylon, and Alexander died just 32 years later.
One unconvinced self-proclaimed ‘history buff’ insisted that ‘I can say with certainty that there is no evidence that Alexander was gay’, while leaving a two-star review.
A big reason why people believe that Alexander the Great’s sexuality is not entirely clear is due to previous scholars erasing LGBTQ references in previous eras, including the Byzantine and Victorian periods.
George Washington University Professor Athena Richardson wrote: ‘Even in a culture that accepted bisexuality, Alexander and Hephaestion’s relationship was an outlier and therefore treated differently.
‘My research shows how this same-sex relationship has been erased, censored and changed to fit the norms of subsequent cultures.
‘Ancient biographers may have censored to hide any implication of femininity or submissiveness in Alexander that this relationship dynamic might suggest. Consequently, succeeding cultures would have hidden the relationship as well.’
However, with one star being the most popular rating for reviewers of the docudrama, there were many who criticized the series regardless of its presentation of sexuality.
One read: ‘Terrible. Historically inaccurate, misses all the most interesting parts of Alexander’s political and military life, and barely even shows him as gay.
“There are reviews that say this show is somehow “woke” (as if that’s a bad thing?), but it’s not, it’s much worse.’
A major reason why people believe that Alexander the Great’s sexuality is not entirely clear is due to previous scholars erasing LGBTQ references in previous eras, including the Byzantine and Victorian periods
However, there was some positivity surrounding the series, with some viewers calling for a continuation of the series
Many reviewers cited the acting, casting and storytelling as their reasons for leaving a negative review rather than any political or social agenda.
But it wasn’t all bad for the streaming giant.
One of the series’ five-star reviews reads: ‘I enjoyed watching the documentary/movie. It is interesting to hear from experts who explain events based on the small traces left behind from Alexander’s time.
“I’ve read the reviews here, and I don’t understand why people are overly critical of the performances or the production. I guess, for some people, they need to see blood hitting their screens to enjoy the viewing. I hope Netflix will continue the series.’