Review: The Owl House

The Owl House, created by Dana Terrace, is a Disney Channel cartoon. But just because something's for kids doesn't mean it has nothing for grown-ups, so I decided to give it a try.

I was hooked from the very first episode.

The basic premise is this. Luz Noceda doesn't fit in at school, mainly because she is ADHD personified.

Her mother, Camila, decides to help her daughter fit in by sending her away to a summer camp. Luz doesn't want to go, but goes along with it--right up until, just before the bus arrives, a door appears out of nowhere and a weird lady comes through it and steals the Noceda family's trash. Luz follows her, and that's how she meets Edalyn Clawthorn.

Eda is an outlaw witch with a curse. She lives in the Owl House with a weird demon named Hooty who appears to be part of the house, and the King of all Demons, who is just a widdle cutie! Yes he is!

(Ahem) Anyway, Luz ends up staying in Eda's world and having wild adventures. She makes a lot of new friends, but catches the unwanted attention of three recurring antagonists (yes, I know this changes in season 2):

Amity Blight, a popular girl with a talent for making Abominations;

Lilith Clawthorn, a member of the Emperor's Coven (and also Eda's sister);

and the mysterious Emperor.

A lot of wonderful and interesting things happen, and sinister plots are revealed, but I don't want to get into too much detail because it would spoil all the neat twists. It's way more fun to figure those out for yourself. Plus, while the main story can get kinda dark, Hooty's and King's antics keep it from getting too depressing for kids. There's also a very G-rated portrayal of gay relationships on this show, which makes me happy.

My Two Cents

Most queer fans of the show love the main pairing (which I'm not naming here because SPOILERS), but even without any Gay at all, the show would still be a fun, zany ride through a magical world full of monsters. But the gay couples in this show (including that spoilerific main pairing, but also some kids' parents) are important, y'all. When I was a kid, the only portrayals of queerness on TV were meant for adults, and were horribly stereotypical. (Waylon Smithers may have been a step forward for gay representation, but he is extremely dated and embarrassing nowadays.) Queer kids were left thinking something was wrong with them, or that they were unique in their queerness (which is a lonely way to live). But now, queer creators like Rebecca Sugar and Dana Terrace are finally dragging major children's programming kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

Unfortunately, they have continuously had to fight the pushback from conservative network execs and bigoted parents. (If you are offended by the thought of your kids watching 2 teenagers blush, hold hands, and occasionally kiss each other on the cheek, just because they happen to both be girls, then I'm sorry to tell you this, but you're a bigot. End of story.) The whole message of The Owl House is that being different isn't bad, so gay love is treated, rightfully, as just another harmless difference.

But that pushback takes a toll. The creators of The Legend of Korra and She-ra: Princesses of Power had to wait until the very end of their respective series for the main character's same-gender love to even be portrayed, for fear they wouldn't get a chance to finish the main plot. Rebecca Sugar famously had to fight HARD to get the lesbian rep in Steven Universe, and even then Cartoon Network responded by playing havoc with the show's episode release dates and censoring out Rupphire in overseas translations. And now, Dana Terrace has had to deal with season 2 of the Owl House getting split in half (though thankfully, that second half is airing every Saturday as I type this) and enough pushback that she has quit Disney and quit the show (which will be finished by the rest of her team).

With that in mind, I give it a 9/10 (because when the show gets dark, it gets reeeeal dark). Also, if you like the show, be sure to let both Disney and Terrace know, because if the bigots keep drowning out the ordinary people on the issue of queer representation, we won't get many more shows like this.

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