Television

This Disney Show’s Portrayal of an Interracial Lesbian Family Is So Valuable

doc

Conservative types are up in arms about a recent episode of one of my family’s favorite shows, a cartoon called “Doc McStuffins”—so naturally I had to watch the episode in question.

Now, while I watch new episodes of HBO’’s “Insecure” as soon as they come out, I’d be stretching my parenting credentials to imply that I keep a calendar of when the next new “Doc McStuffins” comes out. Our family loves the show, but unless we’re on vacation, I don’t even really know when new episodes are released.

So in a way, I was thankful for an outpouring of homophobic outrage last week when One Million Moms launched a “campaign” against the newest episode of Doc McStuffins—it featured Portia de Rossi and Wanda Sykes voicing a couple with two kids, learning about emergency preparedness. Aha! I thought. A new episode. And it sounded really good. I set the DVR.

I use air quotes around “campaign” because among the other action alerts on their campaign page, One Million Moms demands Kraft drop an ad that pokes fun at moms swearing, insists that the intentionally modest clawfoot tubs at the Cialis commercials are “offensive and embarrassing,” and takes a “Liquid Plumbr” ad about “plumber’s crack” way too seriously (I of course had to find and watch all of these ads).

Most of all, though, I was excited to watch the offending episode with my 4-year-old. As it turns out, the crushing blow to family values is the show’s portrayal of Doll family, headed by two moms (Sykes and de Rossi).

They greet our protagonist Doc and her hippo nurse Hallie on the street, and have basic every-day small talk while their son rides a mechanical dragon and the hippo holds their newborn daughter. I know, just like your Saturday. Surrealism aside, it is the complete normalcy of the family’s placement in the episode that is so powerful.

Do you know what Doc says when a couple of interracial moms and their kids walk up to her? She says “Hi!”

That the Doll Family is just one in a cast of dozens of toys Doc has helped (this family learns about the importance about having an emergency plan) is part of why this episode is so important. The fact that they are a lesbian couple just is.

As a straight ally, invested in raising my child to be accepting of those around her and open to whoever she is and loves as she grows up, children’s television can be an exhausting place.

Even in our lefty interracial family circle, where Ella knows multiple gender non-conforming adults and has friends with two moms or two dads, playtime often breaks down to traditional gender roles and in heterosexual families.

Yes, even when just girls are playing, one will “play the Dad.” And part of this, I know, is because that norm what is reinforced in every cartoon, and even many story books (except ones explicitly about difference).

So I hope that for all of our sakes, that this first for Disney is just a start.

When I asked my daughter what she thought about the Doll family, she said they were “… kind of round. They had legs, and knees.” I know that if she keeps seeing all of the beautiful different ways families share love together, maybe her friends and her can imagine families that look a little bit more like their own during playtime.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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