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Netflix CEOs Tout ‘Beef’s Critical and Fan Acclaim, Skip Over David Choe Controversy

The streamer is under fire after rape comments from the actor resurfaced on social media

Netflix CEOs Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters celebrated the success of the streamer’s latest hit series “Beef” but skipped over controversy surrounding cast member David Choe’s involvement.

The executives touted the show’s recent critical and fan acclaim during the company’s first quarter earnings interview Tuesday but didn’t acknowledge the building outrage among viewers that started after a 2014 video of Choe resurfaced on social media in which he said he forced himself on a masseuse.

“That’s new this quarter and it has kicked off and it’s off to a tremendous start,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said of the show. “Again another example of critical acclaim, likely to do well awards season we hope, but loved by fans.”

Sarandos’ comment arrived after he mentioned other successful launches from Q1, including “The Night Agent,” “That ’90s Show” for scripted series and “Full Swing” in the unscripted field. The praise from Netflix execs also comes on the heels of “Beef” climbing to the No. 2 spot in this week’s top 10 English TV shows list with 70.38 million hours viewed.

The Ali Wong and Steven Yeun-led series is currently featured in the streamer’s top 10 list in 87 countries.

The video of Choe, which was posted by Center for Investigative Reporting writer Aura Bogado last week, was taken down by Twitter after the artist filed a complaint about a copyright violation. Since the controversy erupted, series creator Lee Sung Jin and leads Yeun and Wong have been slammed with social media comments. Wong recently made her Twitter account private.

Choe plays Isaac, cousin of Yuen’s character, on the revenge comedy series about a road rage incident that spirals out of control. In a 2014 episode of his now-defunct podcast DVDASA called “Erection Quest,” Choe boasted that he was a “successful rapist,” after forcing a masseuse to give him oral sex, according to Buzzfeed. “The thrill of possibly going to jail, you know, that’s what achieved the erection quest,” is quoted as saying in the clip. He referred to the incident as “rapey behavior.”

“I am an artist and a storyteller and I view my show DVDASA as a complete extension of my art … If I am guilty of anything, it’s bad storytelling in the style of douche… I’m sorry if anyone believed that the stories were fact. They were not!” Choe said in a statement when the clip first ignited backlash in 2014, adding that he is “not a rapist.”

The reignited controversy is certainly affecting viewers’ thoughts on the series. Some shared feeling discouraged from watching the series after learning about the controversy, while others criticize producers and execs for OKing Choe’s casting in the first place.

“Execs knew about his past and still hired him so the whole thing can be torched as far as I’m concerned,” tweeted Phatriona Gray.

“They’re getting exactly what they deserve for hiring him in the first place and then ignoring this whole situation. None of them have spoken out and Ali Wong made her Twitter account private. They need to acknowledge this,” wrote @ValeWolf.

“Beef” is now streaming on Netflix.