LGBT+ Rep in Children's Shows

 

 

From the moment two moms appeared on Good Luck Charlie in 2014,  to the screened kiss between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline in the Adventure Time finale in 2018, there has been an increase of LGBTQ representation on American cartoons targeted towards children. Although this has created a mob of angry parents there is no denying these positive influences have already started making an impact on the next generation and on adults who are getting the representation they needed growing up. Here are a few examples of children’s TV shows that have begun to challenge heteronormativity and are quite enjoyable for people of all ages.

 

Note that there are spoilers ahead for the following shows: Clarence, The Loud House, The Legend of Korra, Steven Universe, Andi Mack, and Adventure Time.

 

Clarence

 

(Photo courtesy by Cartoon Network)

 

Clarence is a light-hearted show that many people enjoy because of the silly adventures that Clarence and his friends, Jeff and Sumo, experience. Cartoon Network gave the creators of the show a little bit of trouble greenlighting an episode where two men meeting for a date would kiss. A writer confirmed that the couple was originally going to kiss on the lips, but it was changed to them kissing each other on the cheek to get the episode approved. Although it was a small gesture, it meant a lot to those watching. In 2014, an episode of Clarence revealed that Jeff had two moms, EJ, and Sue Randell. The pair continues to appear in many more episodes throughout the series, always supporting Jeff and giving the boys advice.

 

The Loud House

 

(Photo courtesy by Nickelodeon)

 

The Loud House revolves around Lincoln Loud who is the only boy in the house surrounded by ten sisters. In an episode, the siblings are all inspired to go after their crushes by writing them a secret admirer note. Luna, one of Lincoln’s sisters, was shown at the end of the episode putting a love note in her crush’s locker. After the note is put in, a girl named Sam comes and opens the locker, smiling at the note. The Loud House also often brings up the fact that Lincoln’s best friend, Clyde, has two dads. Mr. McBride and Mr. McBride (like Lincoln calls them) are an interracial couple who are super protective of Clyde, and their strong bond with their son is stunning. Their family is shown together in many episodes, showing a healthy marriage between the two men. The cute antics of the two families are funny and enjoyable for younger kids and for those who sit down to watch it with them.

 

The Legend of Korra

 

(Photo courtesy by Nickelodeon)

 

Although it wasn’t as popular and loved as its predecessor Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra made history as its main character was revealed to be bisexual in the series finale. Season one of the show gave us a childish Korra who was hot-headed and could barely control her feelings. This Korra was interested in her temperamental guy friend Mako and hated Asami who was a threat to her relationship with him. A few years later, fans rejoiced as Korra, who was now a stronger woman walked off, hand in hand with Asami to the Spirit World. Although fearful conservative parents tried to write off the ending as a “friendship ending,” the romantic relationship between Korra and Asami was confirmed by the creators and pushed much later in the comics.

 

Steven Universe

 

(Photo courtesy by Cartoon Network)

 

Steven Universe is well a well-known series that’s been running on Cartoon Network since 2013. Over the course of the series, they’ve been showing the romantic relationship between Sapphire and Ruby, two characters who use she/her pronouns. Their strong bond allows them to fuse into Garnet, one of the series’ main characters. This year, Cartoon Network allowed the writers to feature a gay wedding between the two characters. Ruby proposed to Sapphire, and their wedding featured a kiss before they fused into Garnet once more. Two other characters that fuse together are Steven and his friend, Connie. When they fuse, they form Stevonnie who uses they/them pronouns, making them a representation for nonbinary people. Steven Universe is known for its diversity and complex storyline, making it an enjoyable watch for any age group.

 

Andi Mack

(Photo courtesy by Disney Channel)

 

Disney Channel’s Andi Mack is a recent GLAAD award winner and one of the most progressive children’s shows on the screen today. Out of the many important themes that it touches upon, coming out is one of its important points. At the beginning of Season 2, one of the main characters, Cyrus, came out to his best friend Buffy, admitting that he had a crush on their friend Jonah. Seeing Cyrus come out not only sparks conversations between families, but it gives people who are older than the targeted age group a chance to see characters on screen they can relate to. Cyrus is proof that kids will live in a world that is more accepting and loving.

 

Adventure Time

(Photo courtesy of Cartoon Network)

 

Princess Bubblegum and Marceline’s obvious yet hidden romance was one of the things that kept fans at the edge of their seats. Finally, in the finale that premiered this year, fans finally got their on-screen kiss between the iconic characters, PB and Marceline. Personally, Marceline and PB’s relationship was a big part of my life when I was discovering my own sexuality growing up. As I figured myself out, I had to wait for the two characters to get together. From a scared middle schooler watching Adventure Time on her parent’s TV to a college student screaming about her sexuality, I’m truly thankful that Marceline and PB grew up with me and eventually found each other like I found myself.

 

Children today are getting to see the representation a lot of us needed when we were younger to make us feel like we belong. It’s one of the reasons why adults enjoy these cartoons and the positive representation they bring to the LGBTQ community. Hope you enjoy these shows as much as I did.