A movie coming in for criticism, controversy, and backlash is par for the course in Hollywood, but very rarely does it befall a largely acclaimed and Academy Award-winning film long after the initial release.
When Tate Taylor’s The Help first hit theaters in August 2011, it was nothing other than an unqualified success. The literary adaptation netted $216 million at the box office on a $25 million budget, and it currently holds a 76% critical score and 89% user rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
On top of that, Octavia Spencer landed an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (beating out her co-star Jessica Chastain in the process), while Viola Davis made the shortlist for Best Actress, and The Help itself was a Best Picture contender.
By all accounts, there’s not a shred of negativity to be found, but The Help‘s reputation has only weakened over time. Davis has expressed her regret at starring in the drama on many occasions, saying that she “betrayed herself and her people”.
Co-star Bryce Dallas Howard echoed that sentiment, too, admitting that she wouldn’t sign on if the project was offered to her today, due to the story being told from the perspective of a white character by a white director, based on a novel from a white author.
Even though there was outrage in 2020 when The Help became the number one movie on Netflix at the height of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, it’s still capable of finding an audience on streaming, as Hulu’s current rankings can attest. Per FlixPatrol, the derided prestige picture can be found as the eighth most-watched title on the platform’s global charts, despite being rejected by the very people who made it.