Netflix Removes 'Designated Survivor' Episode Amid Government Demand

While Netflix is known for continuously adding titles to its streaming platform, the company was forced to remove an episode of Designated Survivor from its service in Turkey last year. According to the streamer’s annual Environmental Social Governance Report for 2020, Season 2, Episode 7, "Family Ties," was pulled from the platform amid demand from Turkey's government.

The episode features actor Troy Caylak as fictional Turkish President Fatih Turan, who comes under fire from the country’s opposition during a visit to the U.S. for a NATO convention. The episode bore similarities to the real-life dispute between the Turkish government and cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is wanted in Turkey over what it claims was his role in a failed coup attempt, according to The Hollywood Reporter. News that the episode would be removed was first reported on back in May 2020, with Netflix in a statement explaining that "following demand from the Turkish regulator, we have removed one episode of Designated Survivor from Netflix in Turkey only, to comply with local law." The episode remains on the service in all other territories.

Following Turkey's censorship of the episode, Caylak, in an emailed statement to The Hollywood Reporter, said he was "naturally disappointed by the decision to have this, or any episode, censored from the series." The actor explained that when he "took the role, I was cautioned by Turkish friends that it may have certain repercussions, [but] to me, it is a fictional role in a fictional series that relies on heightened drama to tell its stories and entertain its audience, and I approached this role, as I do every role, to responsibly and honestly portray this character in service to the storyline. Those who know me know that I do not bring my political views to the set, although I readily confess a love of all things Turkish, including the food – doner kebab is my favorite – ice cream, music and the soul of my people."

The episode was not the only title to be pulled from the streamer’s Turkish portal. Also in 2020, Netflix removed the film Cuties, which sparked international outrage ahead of its debut on the platform last year over the manner in which Netflix promoted it, leading to accusations that it was hyper-sexualizing young girls. The decision to remove Cuties, which is still available for streaming in other countries, followed an order from Turkey's media watchdog RTUK. After Turkey's Ministry of Family and Social Policy said the film "may cause children to be open to negligence and abuse, and negatively impact their psychosocial development," the watchdog voted unanimously to order the Cuties' removal.

In Singapore, meanwhile, Netflix removed Cooked with Cannabis, a competition series in which chefs compete to create marijuana-infused edibles, and the film Have A Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics, which finds celebrities recounting their experiences using hallucinogenic drugs. Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority ordered the streamer the two titles due to drug use.