So one of the things I did over the weekend was to watch cartoons over at the Disney Channel in the hotel room. The one that caught my eye was this series called “Sofia The First,” supposedly about a girl whose mother married into the royal family and then she became a princess.
At first I thought the series was pretty laudable. They made mention of the fact that she’s in a family with stepsiblings and a step-parent, but it started going downhill once they began emphasising on the fact that she was going to a Princess School.
The episode I caught was called “The Shy Princess” and it was as cliché as you could get. The Royals are paired off and they have to come up with an art project about “Their Dream Castle” which made me cringe. But hey, it’s aimed at kids, right?
So Sofia gets paired with this princess who’s supposed to be shy. The other kids at school often speculate and gossip about her, because no one seems to be able to talk to this girl. However, Sofia discovers that Vivian isn’t as bad as people makes her out to be. She just has “issues talking in public.”
Then Sofia discovers that music makes Vivian more confident of herself, and encourages Vivian to sing with her for their presentation. It goes well, and Vivian is suddenly accepted by everyone in the class, but particularly the “Queen Bee” clique of the school. I flipped tables.
Things that Disney got right in this episode were:
- Gossiping kids
We all know how cruel and imaginative kids can get when trash talking others. They got this one right, with the princesses speculating that Vivian’s parents were gnomes and she lived in a cave with bats and a dragon (They got the dragon bit right, at least).
The Queen Bee clique was made of 3 girls, with the usual “head honcho” girl and her two assistants. While they were not physically mean, they were also quite condescending and bullying, because they spoke bad about Vivian even though she was there.
What drove me crazy was this:
- Vivian’s not “shy”
Her anxiety at talking to others, how she tries to blend in with the background and her actual panic at talking to other people and hopelessness at her own self sounds more like she has anxiety issues and mild depression. She also shuts herself and literally runs away from people. That doesn’t sound like “shyness” to me. It sounds like Vivian has serious issues.
- The solution? Express yourself!
Sofia gets Vivian to “express” herself through her music. While seeking the approval of others. I… faceplanted.
Yes, I understand that this is a kids’ show and I probably shouldn’t overanalyse, but it really annoys me when things like these happen. Give me more Phineas and Ferb please.
Original entry as appearing at Ink to Screen.