To the untrained eye, tonight’s episode of Elena of Avalor was simply the tale of one person who knew what was right while another forced people to do the wrong thing until everyone was finally convinced. It had the feelings of Free Willy, combined with the maigc we’ve come to expect from this show. But look a little closer and you will see that this might just be the most important episode of the show so far. Not because it pushes the larger story forward or changes the status quo, but because it shows a Princess boldly standing up for what she believes in to a bully who thinks he is right no matter what. Not only this, but it showed that women can be just as strong as men if not more. Sure, this was a beautifully animated episode and had top notch production quality as usual, but what you need to know is that this episode broke down the barriers of sexism and it did it within 20 minutes while making it look easy. Let’s take a look.
This week’s story centered around a royal retreat held on an island. Elena set off to attend, only to find that the other country leaders were all men. Eye-roll. Not only that, but they were men who groveled to their host, King Hector, in hopes of getting a wonderful gift at the end of the weekend. Bigger eye-roll. Basically, this guy turns out to be Oprah if she used her powers for evil. Do my bidding and YOU’LL GET A FREE CAR!!!! WOOOOOOO!. And, men being how men are, (I’m allowed to say that, right?) they all go for it. They grovel and do as this guy says, even going so far as to dance poorly, in hopes of getting a wonderful prize out of it.
Being as Elena is the new girl in town, Hector does the most Bro thing he can think of and treats her poorly for being new. In fact, he even mistakes her as not a leader at first as she is a woman. This guy is the worst! All of this comes to a head when a purple dolphin-like creature called a Marposa ends up breaking one of their boats and in true Bro-fashion, Hector leads the men to capture the Marposa, rather than trying to figure out why it is behaving in such a fashion. Elena fights back and ends up saving the creatures mother, and then saving the creature from being captured, much to the rage of Hector.
There are some great moments here that really made me smile. I loved watching Elena stand up to this guy. He tells them that he has spent all his money on remodeling his resort and she mentions that perhaps he should spend the money on roads or schools. Pfft, who needs those, right? She butts heads with him and never takes no for an answer and in my favorite moment of the episode, Hector declares that Elena will never be one of the Kings. Elena responds accordingly. “I don’t need to be a King. I’m going to be a Queen.” Gah! It’s so good. It’s so powerful and inspiring and awesome for young girls especially to be able to see something like this on television where a strong female lead goes up against a group of men who think they can bully the world into submission.
Of course, even more impressive than standing up to these guys is the fact that she is solving problems by using her brain and coming up with creative solutions. She’s resourceful as is her sister Isabel and once again Isabel’s inventions come into play. As a fun side-note, I loved getting some time to see Elena and Skylar together. This episode added some depth to Skylar and I really loved how he pulled out all the stops to help his princess. Speaking of animals, where has Zuzo been? I only just realized tonight that we haven’t seen him since episode 1. I’m really hoping he makes an appearance later on.
Look, I could go on. I could tell you how beautifully animated the water was. I could tell you that the voice acting and songs in this show are really top-notch. I can write about this show every week until you guys check it out (And you better believe I will). Yes, this is a show for kids, but what it’s doing and what it’s bringing to the table is important because, while there should be tons of motivational shows about independence, bravery and leadership out there, the fact of the matter is that there aren’t! This show has the power to empower and that is a gift that is so rarely given in the world. This week, one of the creators on the show was kind enough to reach out and thank me for doing these little reviews, but I want to hit that ping pong ball of appreciation back and thank the entire team, from the bottom of my heart for making something so special. From Mulan to Legend of Kora, to Elena of Avalor, it is shows like this that affect change in the market and give young people the hope that they too can be the change the world needs.
That’s my Elena rant for the week! I loved this episode and hope you did too. Let me know what you’re loving about the show in the comments and what you hope to see from the rest of the season!