History of LGBT characters in animation: 2020s

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In the 2020s, representation became more pronounced than it had in the 2010s when it came to Western animation. This included shows like Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, The Owl House, The Hollow, Harley Quinn, Hoops, and Adventure Time: Distant Lands, with the promise of upcoming seasons of Hazbin Hotel, Helluva Boss, and gen:LOCK, RWBY, along with a variety of soon-to-come shows like Lumberjanes and DeadEndia. At the same time, series like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and Steven Universe Future, both of which had various LGBTQ characters, came to an end in 2020.

Cartoon Network[edit]

On March 27, 2020, the four-part finale of its limited epilogue series of Steven Universe, Steven Universe Future, aired on Cartoon Network. Sugar argued that the series made a point about shoune anime and kids cartoons, with the aftermath of victories generally not explored, stating that the series explores the aftermath of the victory in the Season 5 finale, with the protagonist, Steven, having to face his problems head-on. [1][2] The series showed a character, Bismuth, have a crush on another character (Pearl) in the episode "Bismuth Casual."[3] The same year, a storyboarder for the show stated that Peridot was asexual and aromantic,[4] despite her reservations that she is only a secondary creator on the show,[5] pleasing fans, even though she said that she didn't believe Peridot was autistic.[6][7] Before (and after this point) fans had shipped Peridot with various other characters, specifically Lapis Lazuli and Amethyst, some reviewers even seeing Peridot and Lapis in a "close, loving relationship" in 2018.[8]

In April 2020, the creator of DC Super Hero Girls, Lauren Faust, confirmed that everyone was on board with Jessica Cruz having two mothers and that she was glad it was approved.[9]

In October 2020, Jones-Quartey confirmed that Professor Venomous and Lord Boxman of OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes were married at the end of the series.[10]

Olivia Olson at the Florida Supercon in 2016; Olson voices Marceline in Adventure Time: Distant Lands

In the summer of 2020, the Adventure Time: Distant Lands series, the name for four hour-long streaming television specials based on the American animated television series Adventure Time, began streaming on HBO Max. On June 25, the first episode of that series dropped. This episode, titled "BMO," introduced Y5, an anthropomorphic rabbit and teenage scientist between age 11 and 13 who lives in The Drift.[11][12] Originally named "Y4", Y5 chooses her new name[13] with BMO's encouragement and eventually becomes the robot's "deputy."[14][15][16] Y5 struggles with managing the expectations of her parents (voiced by Tom Kenny and Michelle Wong, respectively), and finds herself forced to disobey them in order to save the Drift—all the while discovering her own identity.[15][17] Y5—with the titular robot's assistance—helps the citizens of the Drift defeat Hugo, and after their overlord is dethroned, she proposes a new form of social organization based on cooperation that will ideally allow the Drift to flourish.[18][19] Voice actress Glory Curda later argued that Y5's story has a lot of context and is representative of coming out into your own identity and defining yourself with whatever terms are comfortable for you.[20] Curda, in a Q&A on Reddit, said that after BMO left, Y5 grew and developed into "a leader and trailblazer to help save the drift,"[21] and noted that she was a big Adventure Time fan before getting the part.[22]

On November 19, 2020, "Obsidian," the second episode of Adventure Time: Distant Lands, with the first episode described earlier in this article, aired on HBO Max. It will bring together Marceline "Marcy" Abadeer, Bonnibel "Bonnie" Bubblegum, and Glassboy, the latter who is voiced by Michaela Dietz, who voiced Amethyst in Steven Universe.[23] In this special, Marcy, living with Bonnie, is anxious about revisiting the Glass Kingdom as it holds bad memories, but she and Bonnie are forced to confront this "rocky past" as they face off against an ancient, dangerous, and powerful dragon. Marcy is a confirmed bisexual character, as she dated male characters in the past, while Bonnie is more ambiguous, as her exact sexuality has not yet been confirmed. A few days before the premiere, Mey Rude described Bonnie and Marcy living a "happy, gay life together" which they always deserved, and predicted that the series would be full of "action, brand new songs, and classic Adventure Time weirdness and heart."[24] Before the episode even aired, writing for The A. V. Club, William Hughes gave this episode an A, calling it "fan service at its finest" with "plenty of the usual lovely Adventure Time touches".[25] After the episode aired, Rebecca Long also gave a positive review of the episode in Polygon. She wrote that the episode gives fans the "emotional payoff and answers" they have been yearning for and that the special uses the plot to explore Marceline's childhood trauma, her romantic history with Bubblegum, how the two are interconnected, and fills in gaps about her past.[26] Long also stated that while the special is not "as offbeat" as BMO, it is heavier in terms of emotional weight and plot, and making clear that "romantic subtext" in the original show has "always been straight-up text." At the same time, she states that not all interactions between Bubblegum and Marceline are loving, that the special has flaws due to a conventional structure and storytelling, even with some "inconsistencies in Princess Bubblegum’s character design," but is still heartfelt and effective, complete with new music, with Marceline and Bubblegum having "a shared future that feels real." Rosie Knight of IGN gave a similar assessment.[27] She writes that the special is a "perfect example" of why Adventure Time has a such a big impact, and is strongest in the fact at "how accessible it is to new viewers." She added that the special could be enjoyed by "hardcore fans" and by new viewers who wanted to "live their best lesbian cottagecore lives," with the special constructed allowing people who have little understanding of the characters able to come in to "enjoy this fantastical romp about aging, falling in love, and settling down." Knight further pointed out that the episode has a journey which results in Bubblegum and Marceline looking back at their relationship's ups and downs, along with a series of new songs, and delivers the message that Marceline's power comes from her love of Bubblegum and their relationship while having a song ("Monster") which she says is as iconic as "I'm Just Your Problem" and "Everything Stays the Same." She ends by saying that while the special could be called "fan service," it is "fan service of the highest order, a wonderful animated episode, and "a fitting addition to Adventure Time's legacy."

In February 2021 it was announced that Adventure Time: Distant Lands episode "BMO" had won a Kidscreen Award for Best One-Off, Special or TV Movie.[28][29]

Nickelodeon[edit]

In 2020, Nickelodeon debuted a new television show, Danger Force, which portrayed two dads of a lost child in which Danger Force was trying to find his parents.[30] The same show also featured all four members (two males, two females) having a crush on male heartthrob, Creston. On June 13, 2020, Nickelodeon promoted LGBTQ+ characters in their shows, highlighting SpongeBob SquarePants and The Legend of Korra.[31] While some said this "proved" that SpongeBob was gay, Stephen Hillenberg, back in 2005, said he considered SpongeBob to be asexual, with one writer for Out writing "it's important to realize that those who are asexual are queer as well and are just as welcome to dawn rainbows and celebrate Pride this month."[32]

In 2021, Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues & You! featured an alphabet song in which the letter "P" stood for "P is full of Pride!" and featured multiple Pride flags.[33][34]

Disney[edit]

Eden Espinosa at the Henry Fonda Theater; Espinosa voices Cassandra in Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure

In September 2020, Amber Leigh, a story revisionist for Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure revealed that Cassandra "Cass" was gay coded,[35] with sapphic looks toward the story's protagonist,[36] Rapunzel, and that some of these feelings are shown in the episode about memory loss.[37] She also said that there were many "queer women who boarded scenes [of] Cassandra," and that women-love-women vibes were ingrained in every drawing she did of the character.[38] These beliefs were also reflected by Klaudia Amenábar of The Mary Sue, calling Cass an "extremely gay-coded sword lesbian best friend" of Rapunzel.[39] Earlier in the year, the series creator of Tangled, Chris Sonnenberg, said he'd be willing to produce a spinoff show focusing on Cass, "if the call came."[40] The year before, in November, he called Cass a strong female character[41] and talked about the "real friendship bond" between her and Rapunzel in September of the same year.[42] The following month, in June, Batgirl, Wonder Woman and a number of other heroes from DC Comics appeared in an image posted on the Twitter account of DC Kids for pride month.[43]

Additionally, in DuckTales, Indy and Ty were the guardians of Violet Sabrewing and the foster fathers of Lena Sabrewing, slated to be recurring characters,[44] with episodes broadcast on Disney XD and previously on the Disney Channel. Later, on September 29, 2020, Samantha "Sam" King, a writer for the Season 3 episode of DuckTales, "They Put a Moonlander On the Earth!", confirmed that Lieutenant Penumbra is a lesbian character.[45] However, King wished it had been more overt and said that people should continue to ask for better representation.[46] On October 21, 2020, two days after the DuckTales one-hour special entitled "Let's Get Dangerous!" aired, storyboard artist Diana Huh confirmed that one of the scenes she had worked on for the special, which included the characters Launchpad McQuack and Drake Mallard holding hands, with Drake looking fondly at Launchpad, was intended to be romantic in nature, while also admitting that she shipped the two characters together; although she did not elaborate as to whether the two were dating in-universe, or would eventually date in future episodes of the show, many fans interpreted this as their relationship being, or becoming, canon. Fellow DuckTales storyboard artist and writer Sam King, who had only a month ago conceded that another character in the series, Penumbra, was lesbian, responded by seemingly endorsing the pairing, furthering the notion of these two beings, or possibly getting, together.[47]

There were also a few shows which aired on Disney Junior. For instance, Doc McStuffins, featured a lesbian (and interracial) married couple, Thea and Edie, voiced by openly lesbian actresses Wanda Sykes and Portia de Rossi respectively.[48][49] These two characters would be the first same-sex couple featured in a Disney Junior pre-school series. A few years later, an episode of T.O.T.S., "Seas the Day," aired on the same channel. In the episode, a baby dolphin named Donny is adopted by a dolphin lesbian couple.[50] Additionally, in December 2018, the creator of Big City Greens, Chris Houghton, on Tumblr, confirmed that Alexander and Terry are a couple,[51] although protagonist Cricket Green does not seem to realize that they are gay throughout the series. Alexander is loud, rather effeminate and bossy, and Terry is silent and an introvert. They both appear to be hanging out each other in a few episodes such as "Gridlocked", "Fill Bill", "Barry Cuda", and "Trailer Trouble". Alexander is voiced by John Early, an openly gay actor. In their 2020–2021 report, GLAAD noted that DuckTales featured two dads in an episode, while some episodes centered on "an alien named Penumbra" who the episodes' director and writer confirmed as a lesbian, and the show The Owl House made headlines this summer for a bisexual character named Luz, and her crush, Amity, who is lesbian, both of whom have a "romantic storyline."[30][a]

On February 16, 2021, in response to a fan, Jessie Juwono, a supervising director of Big Hero 6: The Series, confirmed Globby and Felony Carl, as a gay couple who appeared in the episode "Krei-oke Night."[52]

The Owl House[edit]

During its series run, The Owl House has dropped subtext and hints that several characters within the show are LGBTQ+.[53][54] On July 7, 2020, series creator Dana Terrace implied this, when responding to a fan who posted a screenshot from the upcoming episode "Enchanting Grom Fright" on Twitter, which showed one of the characters in the show, Amity Blight, putting her hands on the shoulders of Luz Noceda, the show's main protagonist, and looking into Luz's eyes.[55] Claiming "there is no heterosexual explanation" for Amity's action, Terrace responded, "there really isn't".[56] On August 8, 2020, the episode, written by Molly Ostertag,[57] aired, openly presenting and confirming Disney's first animated LGBT+ female non-recurring character. In previous episodes, Luz had shown interest in male characters but had begun to grow closer to Amity. On the other hand, Amity is shown to have a crush on Luz, confirming her to be lesbian or bisexual. In the episode, Luz and Amity dance together, while casting spells, to defeat "Grom," a demon that manifests as their deepest fears. The animation supervisor for the show, Spencer Wan, hinted at this, referring to their intimate dance, which he storyboarded with Hayley Foster, as "the gay thing"[58] and the first time he got to "do anything even remotely queer."[59] The following day, he posted an animatic of Luz and Amity's dance scene.[60] As such, Amity and Luz represent Disney's first animated LGBT+ female regular characters. Additionally, in the episode "Understanding Willow", one of the main characters (Willow Park) is shown to have two dads.[61]

Netflix[edit]

On May 15, 2020, the final season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power premiered on Netflix. The stakes were higher than ever before, with more danger than the previous season, according to Stevenson, as the season has "a core of optimism to it" with the characters discovering who "they are and following the path that each of them has."[62] Before the show premiered, Mey Rude, who has reviewed the show, said that it is "changing animation, television, and lives for the better"[63] and stated that She-Ra has and "will continue to be the catalyst for self discovery for countless queer people."[64] In an interview with Nerdist, Stevenson said that she wanted to represent points of view not usually seen in media, trying to explore them while being as "honest and as real as possible," adding that while crafting queer representation is different from "studio to studio, show to show," recommending that people who want such representation have to approach it "without any fear," saying that sometimes people hold back because they are scared, and called for increased LGBTQ+ representation.[65] She hoped that the show would inspire people to create "more queer relationships and characters who are textually queer," and that it inspires people in their lives as a whole. She echoed this in a later tweet, remarking that she hoped that in the future people stop thinking of LGBTQ+ representation "as a race or a contest and more as a community effort to uplift voices that have not yet had their stories told," adding that every piece of media is a broadening of horizons, not an endpoint.[66]

Also in 2020, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts aired on Netflix and became a shining example of expanded representation.[67] In the first season of Kipo, which streamed on January 10, Benson said outright he was gay, saying he only liked the series protagonist, Kipo, in a platonic way.[68] He also developed a crush on a male character, Troy, in the show's 10th episode.[69] Due to these elements, some noted the show's "casual queerness."[70] The same year, The Hollow, featured three gay characters, most prominent of which was a Hispanic boy named Adam.[71] Additionally, one of the series directors of Castlevania Sam Deats confirmed that Alucard was bisexual and Taka as gay..[72][73]

On December 12, 2020, a mature adult animation, Hoops was cancelled by Netflix after its first season received low ratings and negative reviews.[74][75] Hoops was described as "puerile comedy ... perfect for Trump's America,"[76] not funny,[77] and "crude, rude, and aimless."[78] The animation had a gay character named Scott on the school's basketball team.[79]

On January 21, 2021, David Opie of Digital Spy said that Disenchantment is different from The Simpsons and doing something that the latter series "struggled with for over three decades."[80] He noted that some LGBTQ+ fans from the beginning of the show picked up "on some queer vibes" and it later teased that "Bean might be flirting with people of the same sex as her," but then in part 3 of the show, in the episode "Last Splash," it was confirmed that Bean "is indeed queer" and that she likes mermaids.

Rooster Teeth[edit]

On September 21, 2020, Yssa Badiola of Recorded by Arizal hosted a RTX panel with Christine Marie Cabanos, Joshua Kazemi, and Kdin Jenzen, the latter who moderated.[81] Toward the end of the panel, Jenzen asked about LGBTQ characters in the show. Badiola said that if there was a full season, while Arizal's sexuality (and gender) would be explored, and that there were a "lot" of LGBTQ characters in a "show proper" they originally pitched.[82]

On December 26, 2020, Kdin Jenzen, the voice actor for May Marigold, talked about confirmation of May as trans on screen in the December 19, 2020 episode "War", the eighth episode of Volume 8 of RWBY.[83][84] She also said that the amount of support for a trans character like May blows her mind and noted that May is the first "onscreen trans character" confirmed for RWBY.[b]

YouTube[edit]

In October 2020, it was announced that a full season of Helluva Boss, an animated web series which is in the same universe as Hazbin Hotel, would be released in fall 2021 on the YouTube channel of series creator Vivienne Medrano.[85] Helluva Boss has various LGBTQ characters, specifically a bisexual demon named Moxxie,[86] and a pansexual demon named Blitzo.[87] Medrano also acted positively toward a fan who shared the idea of a sitcom set in an alternative universe where "Blitzo and Stolas are two single dads getting married" and explained that the season of Helluva Boss is being started in the fall, but the eight episodes of the first season won't drop at once, but over time.[88][89] Stolas is also presumably bisexual as he is married with a wife and a daughter, but also has sex with Blitzo. The previous month, Medrano had expressed support in shipping two male characters in an animated short featuring characters from a webcomic she worked on,[90] titled ZooPhobia, after Benjamin Diskin shipped them together.[91] In the show's third episode, Loona, the "adopted daughter" of Blitzo acts as a honey pot as she flirts with both men and women. This is indicated by the fact that she is seemingly interested in Verosika, Blitzo's ex-girlfriend, and appears to have a crush on a male Hellhound, who works for Verosika, named Vortex.[92]

Apart from the news about Helluva Boss in October 2020, there was another series which featured a LGBTQ character. In October 21, 2020, the Ollie & Scoops episode "Tutor Suitor," displayed an anxious Ms. Bellie Bivvins has a crush on a science teacher, Ms. Wendy Whippleworth.[93] In the episode, they both get together in the end, with the help of the series protagonists Ollie and Scoops. Series creator Nico Colaleo, who had created Too Loud a few years before, noted that in the episode, Bellie, wanted to tell "her crush how she feels" with butterflies from her tummy as the "physical manifestation of her anxiety" and praised fan art of Bellie and Wendy.[c]

In December 2020, Jocelyn Samara DiDomenick, the author of Rain linked to a teaser trailer for an animated series of the webcomic, announcing that one was in production.[94] Larissa Logan Robin Frost, also known by their handle LariUmbreon, announced that she would be voicing Rain in a post on Reddit.[95] The official YouTube channel for the series describes it as a "story for boys, girls, and everyone in between."[96]

Fox[edit]

On February 16, 2020, Duncanville began broadcasting on Fox. The show would feature the protagonist, Duncan, having a crush on his genderfluid classmate, Mia, who works at a pizzeria and sticks her finger in each pizza to "silently protest the company’s anti-gay stance."[97] On March 22, the show would reportedly have an unnamed gay couple in episode "Sister, Wife."

In January 2021, the adult animated sitcom titled The Great North began airing on Fox. One of the characters, Ham Tobin, played by Paul Rust, is the middle son of Beef Tobin and is openly gay.[98] Ham is a teen trying to find their place in the world and comes out to his family as gay, even though he did so in the past.[99]

Adult Swim[edit]

In September 2020, The Venture Bros., which had been slated to be renewed for an eighth and final season,[100][101] was cancelled. On September 5, an illustrator for the show, Ken Plume, said he would be sorry if the show was cancelled,[102][103] which was confirmed by series creator Jackson Publick, with season 8 being axed.[104][105] Not long after, Adult Swim stated that they were working to "find another way to continue the Venture Bros. story"."[106] The show had featured LGBTQ characters like openly gay Colonel Horace Gentleman,[107] a lesbian character named Virginia "Ginnie" Dunne,[108] and a gay couple: The Alchemist and Shore Leave.[107] A number of creators weighed in on the decision. For instance, Owl House creator Dana Terrace criticized the cancellation, as did animator Bryan Brinkman, DuckTales producer Frank Angones, and other fans of the show.[109]

HBO Max[edit]

More significant than the aforementioned series, in terms of representation, was a mature adult animated series titled Harley Quinn, broadcast on DC Universe and later on HBO Max. In the May 15, 2020 episode "There's No Place to Go But Down," Harley Quinn saved her partner-in-crime, Poison Ivy, both kissed each other after they escaped from prison.[110] The critic who reviewed the episode stated that Harley and Poison's romance is "slow burn" one, adding that this love affair could turn into a "more realistic exploration of how it feels to fall in love with a friend or to have an awkward hookup with a workmate." In another episode, Clayface, a member of Harley's villain crew, was revealed as gay character who had a crush on a male student.[111][112]

Even more significant was the season 2 finale. In that episode, Poison Ivy had her wedding with Kite Man, a person she didn't love, interrupted. By the end of the episode, Harley Quinn and Ivy realize their feelings for each other, kissing and "finally embracing that they're soul mates" as Renaldo Metadeen of CBR put it.[113] Heather Hogan at Autostraddle added that the bisexual love of Poison and Harley is canon, calling the second season "one of the most gratifying gay seasons of television" she has ever watched.[114]

The series is currently being nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Other networks[edit]

In 2020, an episode of Clifford the Big Red Dog aired on Amazon Prime Video and PBS Kids, titled “Dogbot”. It featured Dr. and Ms. Mulberry, the two moms of Samantha Mulberry.[115] Dr. Mulberry, who is a veterinarian, is voiced by Maggie Cassella, an openly lesbian actress. The episode is currently being nominated for a GLAAD Media Award.[116]

In June 2020, Jamie Johnson character Dillon Simmonds (Patrick Ward) came out as gay, having previously been displayed as heterosexual. The storyline was highlighted for being introduced during pride month.[117] On the storyline, CBBC stated: "Coming out isn't always easy, but by being a supportive ally we can hopefully create a safe space for the people we care about to be themselves".[118]

In July 2020, CBBC aired an episode of The Next Step featuring two teenage girls kissing. Prior to the scene, characters Cleo (Dani Verayo) and Jude (Molly Saunders) were written to confess their feelings for each other, and begin a relationship together.[119] The scene made history as the first same-sex kiss to be aired on the channel.[120] Amidst both praise and criticism, the BBC defend the scene by stating: "CBBC is proud to reflect all areas of children's lives, including age appropriate representation of same sex relationships". Eloise Stonborough of LGBT charity Stonewall described the scenes as "an exciting moment for LGBT representation", and praised the series and CBBC for improving "understanding of what it means to be lesbian" for young viewers of The Next Step.[121] The moment generated over 100 complaints, to which the BBC defended it, saying: "We believe that the storyline, and the kiss, was handled with sensitivity and without sensationalism, following as it did the portrayal of Jude and Cleo's developing relationship and I am afraid we do not agree that it was inappropriate for the audience age".[122]

In August 2020, CBBC transmitted an episode of Mystic where character Caleb Burford (Joshua Tan) comes out as gay to Issie Brown (Macey Chipping). The scene was described as "groundbreaking" by Digital Spy.[123]

Mike McMahan speaking at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California

Early in October 2020, the creator of Star Trek: Lower Decks, Mike McMahan confirmed that Captain Amina Ramsey was Beckett Mariner's former lover at Starfleet Academy, even though it wasn't explicit, saying that "every Starfleet officer is probably at the baseline bisexual" in a sense, and that they did not "intentionally mean for anybody to be strictly heteronormative or straight or cis." However, he promised to do better in the show's second season, saying they would dig into it more, saying that the show could, in the future, more explicitly state "things that the writers always knew about Mariner."[124]

Apart from these series was Magical Girl Friendship Squad and the pilot series, Magical Girl Friendship Squad: Origins. On January 1, Magical Girl Friendship Squad: Origins entered the fray.[125] Six episodes of the adult animation, inspired by Sailor Moon and other magical girl animes, began airing on Syfy.[126][127] The series, written by Diana McCorry who created Human Kind Of,[128] features two women, Alex and Daisy, with the latter a lesbian who sleeps with a woman during the show. The series appeared in a new iteration on September 26, named Magical Girl Friendship Squad, with some new cast members and longer episodes.[126][129] In the latter show, Daisy is unambiguously queer as she has slept with "every barista" at the local coffee shop.[130] In the second and third episodes of the main show, "The Cool S" and "Agony Solstice", a sticker with the transgender pride flag is shown on Daisy's laptop. She is later shown to have an ex-girlfriend in the fourth episode, "Anti-Fungal Spit Skanks," a classic-style anime character, named Yolanda,[131][132] who works at urgent care center in the city. Additionally, in the episode "The Real World," Pansy, who calls herself Daisy's "monogamous live-in girlfriend" is introduced, but she only exists in the dimension created by Nut's sister, Gloriana. Then on November 1, 2020, Hallie Cantor, a writer for the show, responded to a question on whether Daisy is trans, stated that they hadn't yet "identified her as trans or cis,"[133] meaning that she could either be a cisgender lesbian or trans lesbian. On December 4, 2020, Krystal Downs, director for Magical Girl Friendship Squad confirmed that Daisy is lesbian in a tweet.[134]

In January 2021, GLAAD pointed to a few series on the platform like Harley Quinn, with Harley Quinn as bisexual and had a growing relationship with Poison Ivy, Doom Patrol which has a gay man named Larry Trainor/Negative Man and a character, Danny, who uses they/them pronouns, and Young Justice which features "LGBTQ characters Aqualad and Halo."[30] GLAAD also pointed out that the streamer aired an episode of Adventure Time: Distant Lands which focuses "on queer couple Bubblegum and Marceline" and the announcement that an animated series based on Lumberjanes was ordered. It is worth noting that Young Justice is a young adult animation, while Doom Patrol is for Adults and Adventure Time: Distant Lands is All-Ages.

Upcoming shows[edit]

In February 2020 it was reported that Michael Vogel, a gay development executive who worked on shows like Transformers Prime and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, was working on a new 2D animated show for WildBrain titled Princess Alexander. The series would focus on themes of sexuality and gender while revolving around a young prince who finds out he has magical powers which "have traditionally been exclusive to princesses," even though he has "none of the natural skills that princes are supposed to have," leading to the entire kingdom and his family panicking at this discovery. Vogel said that this series targets those ages 6-9, serving as an allegory for acceptance of LGBTQ people, and that he is writing the "22-minute origin story pilot" while production was said to begin in summer 2020.[135] WildBrain’s EVP of content and current series Stephanie Betts was quoted as saying they want to "tell stories that appeal to everyone in the audience" while Vogel said that while many shows are doing a lot for diversity and inclusivity, to have a character "dealing with these issues front and center" is something he hasn't seen before.

Brooke Allen is the illustrator of Lumberjanes, a comic book published by BOOM! Studios

August 2020 brought a number of developments when it came to inclusive storylines. On August 17, a queer writer, Taneka Scotts, who wrote 12 episodes of Steven Universe Future,[136] along with episodes for My Little Pony: Pony Life, Craig of the Creek, and other shows,[137] announced her role in an unannounced show on Twitter. She noted that she had become a story editor on a show with "great characters, upfront queerness, and big heart" which would premiere in 2022.[138][139] In a later back-and-forth with Molly Ostertag, she clarified that it would be an animated show,[140] and said that she wanted to be a showrunner on a future show down the road.[141] Then there was the news from creator Sara Eissa about the pitch for her show, Astur's Rebellion, an action-adventure which "follows the protagonist in her journey of rebellion and redemption,"[142] was rejected "due to bias against elements of diversity such as POC and LGBTQ+ main characters," implying that she was talking about Crunchyroll.[143] In her Eissa's Twitter thread on the subject, she talked about discourse around "diverse" in the animation industry, especially those pitching "future shows," referred to High Guardian Spice, [d] stating that the company (presumably Crunchyroll) would look at a show with "diversity" like people of color, female cast, brighter tones, and "not give it a chance" because it won't be profitable.[144][145] She further criticized "progressive looking white women" for ruining the chances of people of color to pitch shows and argued that they only hire other White people,[e] saying they are advertising diversity, not normalizing it, and stated that she will continue to work on Astur's Rebellion going forward.[146] This series will feature Eissa as a writer, Anh (Ducanhart) doing greyscale environmental art, Christopher Mansing drawing logo art, and Collateral Damage Studios putting together concept art and illustrations.[147]

The comic series, Lumberjanes would premiere as an animated series on HBO Max sometime in the future, having Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooklyn A. Allen and Noelle Stevenson as showrunners.[148][149][150] The original comic series is filled with LGBTQ characters, such as Jo, a trans female main character,[151][152] and two other female main characters who identify as either bisexual or lesbian, Molly and Mal (both of whom have requited crushes on each other).[153][154] After the announcement of the series, fellow animators, like Matt Braly of Amphibia, Rad Sechrist of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, and Shadi Petosky of Twelve Forever and Danger & Eggs praised the development.[155] There were similar sentiments from voice actors Liam O'Brien, Sam Riegel, Aimee Carrero, Felicia Day, and Cissy Jones, comic artists Alex Z. Zhang and Victoria Ying, TV writers Shane Lynch and Benjamin Siemon, and comic writers Jackson Lanzing and Dan Slott, among others.[155] Then, on October 7, Stevenson told EW about the series, saying that her "interest in lifting up and exploring queer stories" is not going anywhere.[151] She added that she is interested in "telling central queer stories," having stories that are "built around" queer characters. The same EW story said that the series is in the "early development" stage with HBO Max.[151]

In early December, more LGBTQ series were noted. This included a 2D-animated series titled "Highlands Shadow," directed by Paula Boffo and produced by Ojo Raro, which will be eight episodes long, at Ventana Sur’s Animation![156] This series aims at a young adult audience, addresses "gender and LGBTIQ+ issues," by focusing on Juana, "a girl from Humahuaca whose sister Marisol has been captured by a human trafficking cartel," who allies with "two haunted machetes" and becomes a superheroine.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Owl House is also mentioned on page 15 of the same report which says "one noteworthy cable series which introduced new queer women characters and made headlines was Disney Channel’s animated family show The Owl House. The August episode “Enchanting Grom Fight” set up the romance between magical students Luz and Amity as they share a dance to defeat a monster, and it is revealed that Amity wanted to ask Luz to the school’s version of prom."
  2. ^ Additionally, on October 28, 2020, Jenzen said that "May’s character, her interactions, and her emotions all come from a very real place and I did my best to get that across in the booth," on June 20, 2020, she said that recording May for the Volume was her "first time back in the booth since transitioning," and on June 18, 2020, she implied that May was lesbian, saying that she is "out there collecting girlfriend's like Pokemon."
  3. ^ He talked about the meaning of the episode on October 22 while calling the fan art of Bellie and Wendy "precious", "adorable", and said the same here.
  4. ^ One of her tweets stated that the company she pitched to spilt tea "on how they produced a show that was "diverse" (body types, lgbt+, all girls) and instead of releasing a trailer for the show the creators talked about how "diverse" the show was and used it as a selling point," with this getting "immense backlash," which refers to the backlash over this show.
  5. ^ This may be a reference to the livestream controversy around She-Ra

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

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