Saturday Something: Elena of Avalor

There’s a new Disney princess to love!

Her name is Elena, and she is spunky and funny and jumps into things headfirst. I like her, for sure. I like her little sister, Isabella, too–they have a sweet relationship. She also has lovely chemistry with her grandfather–the pair sing a beautiful duet in the first episode of the series, and it’s been stuck in my head all week.

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The plot is insanely complicated. Way too complicated. I won’t try to explain it because all you really need to know is that Elena is someday going to be Queen of Avalor (right now, she’s Crown Princess because she’s too young to be Queen), and she takes a uniquely hands-on approach to helping her people. Her human allies include a wizard-in-training, the adventurous Harbor Master’s daughter and the aw-shucksy head of her guard, Gabe. Her non-human allies include three jocular jaquins (magical flying tiger things), who provide levity and speedy transportation, and Zuzo, a wise spirit animal.

The show has a great salsa theme song, and the animation, while clearly computer generated, manages to look a little better than Sophia The First, even though a lot of the backgrounds are oddly static. Overall, it’s a fun show, and I’m looking forward to introducing it to my niece so that I have an excuse to watch more episodes!

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Something I don’t love: The continued debate about Elena (and Sophia) and race.  Who cares what she is? She’s a fictional character living in a clearly fictional world. None of it’s real. But her skin is brown. Young girls with darker skin will see themselves reflected in a positive way, and there’s nothing wrong with that! In fact, just as I said when Sophia came out, I think that’s great! 

I’m all about positive diversity in children’s programming, but we adults are way too obsessed with putting a label on these things. Our sons, daughters, nieces and nephews don’t know or care if Elena is in Spain or Portugal or Hawaii. They probably don’t even care whether her skin is dark or light. They’d likely love her even if she was green. So let’s stop taking things so seriously and heap some love on this unique, salsa-singing, flying tiger-riding princess!

Want to meet Elena for yourself? Her show debuts Friday, July 22, on Disney Channel and she’ll make her first appearance in at Disney World in August!