3 Reasons Why I Love 'Descendants' as a College Student

Our generation has grown up with a slew of memorable DCOMs, aka Disney Channel Original Movies. From the High School Musical trilogy to Camp Rock (yes, just the first one), to Lemonade Mouth, we’ve been fortunate to experience some of the best of what Disney Channel has to offer. However, we all grow out of kid-orientated networks eventually, including myself—but I was reeled back in with the release of Descendants in 2015. At first glance, the movie seems like just another cash-grab that utilizes Disney classics. Though when you take a look beneath the surface, you’ll understand how the franchise garnered a pop culture following among kids, teens and adults alike.

Spoiler alert: I will be going over details from all three of the Descendants movies, so read at your own risk!

 

  1. 1. The Characters

    The Descendants movies are built upon the stories of children of iconic Disney villains, and the first movie introduces what is known as the “Core Four": Mal (Dove Cameron), daughter of Maleficent, Evie(Sofia Carson), daughter of the Evil Queen, Carlos (Cameron Boyce), son of Cruella de Vil, and Jay (Booboo Stewart), son of Jafar.

    Almost immediately I, and millions of others, were drawn into the intrigue of the storyline: to bring over four villain kids (later dubbed VKs) to the good side filled with children of the more beloved Disney characters, such as Ben (Mitchell Hope), son of Belle and the Beast, Audrey (Sarah Jeffery), daughter of Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming, and even Doug (Zachary Gibson), son of Dopey. And the roster doesn’t end there. Descendants 2 introduced another staple trio to the mix: Uma (China Anne McClain), daughter of Ursula, Harry (Thomas Doherty), son of Captain Hook, and Gil (Dylan Playfair), son of Gaston.

    Each character portrays traits similar to their parents, and as someone who grew up watching the movies featuring said parents, it’s interesting to see how their kids live up to their parents’ legacies—or, in some cases, don’t.

  2. 2. The Music

    Before any of the Descendants movies were released, there was no denying that DCOMs had put out some of the most iconic anthems of our childhood (i.e. “We’re All In This Together,” “Gotta Find You” and “Determinate”). It’s only fitting that the Descendants trilogy continued the legacy. Descendants premiered with a sound unknown to prior DCOMs: the EDM-infused “Rotten to the Core” which currently sits at 361 million views on YouTube.

    More recently, Descendants 3 featured a solo following the return of the revengeful Audrey called “Queen of Mean,” a song that chronicles her journey from good girl to evil ruler. Following its release, the video topped the YouTube Trending page for days and the song itself broke out into the Top 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It continues to amass viewership, having just reached the 100 million mark.

    “Rotten to the Core” and “Queen of Mean,” among many other Descendants songs, have resonated with listeners of all types due to their contemporary sounds and addictive melodies.

  3. 3. The Messages

    Once you grow out of the magic of Disney (though I’m not sure if that’s entirely possible), it may be easy to see DCOMs such as the Descendants trilogy as nothing more than a set of potential Halloween costumes for kids. However, all of the Descendants movies hit on some pretty deep topics that are important for kids, and even adults, to understand.

    Descendants shows that the "Core Four" don’t have to abide by the stereotypes set forth by their parents’ histories. Descendants 2 lets viewers know that it’s natural to struggle with who you are and encourages them to accept the love that they deserve.

    Finally, Descendants 3—as Mal emphasizes prior to the movie's finale—proves that “we are all capable of good and bad, no matter which side of the barrier we come from.”

The Descendants trilogy has given me some of the finest moments of my young adult life to date: my best friends and I have thrown viewing parties for the premieres to see our favorite characters on screen yet again, sung along to the songs in the car at the top of our lungs and felt deep connections to what the storylines conveyed. These movies weren’t meant for kids alone, nor should anyone feel like they are. Although the Descendants trilogy has come to a close, there’s no denying that its impact will be felt within all generations, past and present.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Cameron Boyce. As Director Kenny Ortega put best, he will always be our “Forever Boy.”