After a hiatus spanning more than a decade-and-a-half, Disney announced that it's rebooting "The Proud Family" animated series with new characters, including same-sex parents.
“The Proud Family,” which aired from 2001-2005 on the Disney Channel, will relaunch on Disney Plus in 2022. The entertainment company’s streaming service announced that a same-sex couple will be among the new characters introduced in the reboot.
In a statement on Twitter Wednesday, Disney said: “New crew coming through to #TheProudFamily: #LouderandProuder! Meet Maya’s parents, Barry & Randall Leibowitz-Jenkins, voiced by @ZacharyQuinto & @TheeBillyPorter.”
The announcement of the same-sex parents’ inclusion in the reboot comes after Disney Plus previously announced that actress Keke Palmer would be joining the relaunched series, “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder,” as a new character, “14-year-old activist Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins.”
Entertainment Weekly reported that the series " ... will pick up the story of its central character Penny Proud (Kyla Pratt) and also include her madcap family: parents Oscar (Tommy Davidson) and Trudy (Paula Jai Parker), twin siblings BeBe and CeCe, and her grandmother Suga Mama (JoMarie Payton). We’ll also see the return of Penny’s loyal crew Dijonay Jones (Karen Malina White), LaCienega Boulevardez (Alisa Reyes), and Zoey Howzer (Soleil Moon Frye), among others.”
Disney Plus note that the original installment of “The Proud Family” focused on “the adventures and misadventures of Penny, a typical African American girl who’s doing her best to navigate through the early years of teen-dom.”
Throughout the series, the summary explained, “Penny’s every encounter inevitably spirals into bigger-than-life situations filled with hi-jinks, hilarity and heart. Her quest to balance her home, school and social lives are further complicated by friends like the sassy Dijonay, Penny’s nemesis LaCienega Boulevardez, her loving, yet overprotective, parents and her hip-to-the-groove-granny, Suga Mama.”
The inclusion of a same-sex couple on a forthcoming reboot of an animated series is not Disney’s first attempt to include LGBT characters and activism in its children’s programming.
Last year, Disney and its animation studio Pixar produced the feature film “Onward,” featuring a lesbian character as well as the short film “Out,” which became the studio’s first production to feature a gay main character. Additionally, the creator of the Disney Channel cartoon “Owl House” revealed last summer that the lead character in the series is bisexual.
Disney began introducing LGBT characters in its live-action programming several years ago. In 2017, the Disney Channel series “Andi Mack” featured a same-sex teen romance. The inclusion of a “gay moment” in the 2017 live-action Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast” led to calls for a boycott from Christian leaders.
In addition to introducing LGBT characters in its films and TV series, Disney has introduced apparel specifically designed for children celebrating Pride Month. Last week, Disney unveiled a new line of merchandise called the Rainbow Disney Collection to celebrate the “countdown to Pride Month,” which begins June 1 and celebrates the LGBT movement. The collection includes rainbow-colored depictions of beloved Disney characters emblazoned on clothing and rainbow-colored figures of Disney characters.
Other entertainment outlets known for family-friendly and children’s programming that have promoted LGBT activism and characters include the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. The effort to integrate LGBT advocacy with popular culture, especially by appealing to children, has not gone unnoticed by religious leaders.
In a sermon delivered earlier this month, Pastor John MacArthur cited the Disney Corporation’s creation of “characters that are transgender” as an example of the effort by the entertainment industry to “pump out things that destroy children” and “seduce children into accepting wickedness as normal.”
On an episode of his podcast “The Briefing” last year, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, reacted to the inclusion of a same-sex couple in a movie produced by the traditionally family-friendly Hallmark Channel by warning that “the romcom is now being used as an engine for this moral revolution to turn the world upside down.”
The inclusion of LGBT characters in the reboot of “The Proud Family” and the expansion in the number of LGBT characters overall comes after the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD called for the share of LGBT television characters to rise to 20% by 2025.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org