I’ve written about it a bit couple of times already, here: https://illinoiseagle.com/2021/09/25/top-11-canonically-bisexual-tv-characters/ and here: https://illinoiseagle.com/2021/08/05/loki-makes-the-protagonist-canonically-bisexual-but-does-it-go-far-enough-spoiler-warning/. But anyway, The Owl House is an Disney cartoon about, Luz Noceda, a teenage girl who finds herself in the demon realm, a magical world where all things magical exist. She becomes a witches apprentice to the Eda the Owl Lady. She also gets into a romantic relationship with another young witch, and it has been confirmed by the writers that the protagonist is bisexual.
The Owl House has aired for 1.5 seasons, and it is already getting cancelled after Disney airs Season 3. This is happening recently after a same-sex kiss between protagonist, Luz Noceda and her girlfriend, Amity Blight. Despite this, the show creator Dana Terrence, claims that it was not due to homophobia but rather a “branding” issue, tweeting:
“SO WHAT WAS IT?! At the end of the day, there are a few business people who oversee what fits into the Disney brand and one day one of those guys decided TOH didn’t fit that “brand.” The story is serialized (BARELY compared to any average anime lmao), our audience skews older, and that just didn’t fit this one guy’s tastes. That’s it! Ain’t that wild? Really grinds my guts, boils my brain, kicks my shins, all the things. It sucks but it is what it is.”
So lets’s unpack this, what does the “brand” issue mean? It certainly is vague enough to sound queerphobic. After all, Disney’s brand does tend not to include any significant positive LGBTQ+ representation. This is frequently an issue for children’s shows, as homophobic adults use their “we must protect the children!” excuse. The argument that gay and bisexual representation, in the form of kisses, is too sexual for innocent children falls flat when you consider that Disney has an abundant amount of opposite-sex kisses.
Secondly, there are Disney shows that completed their run which featured serialized plots, such as, Gravity Falls and Star vs. the Forces of Evil. I will admit, the plots of these shows were more episodic in earlier seasons, but as the climax of the finale grew near, the late season episodes grew more serialized. Still, Terrence is correct to say that the plot of The Owl House is barely serialized, most episodes are able to stand alone. There are merely some plot threads that connect the episodes. In my opinion, this makes for good storytelling, as plots should build on themselves. That’s how we get things like character development, for example their was some great character development for Amity Blight and Lilith Clawthorne on the show. The primary difference is that protagonists of Gravity Falls and Star Vs. Forces of Evil are white and heterosexual.
Thirdly, I do think that it was an issue for the executives at the Disney that there audience was older than expected. However, ratings for The Owl House have an actually been very high. So from a financial outlook, it is a financially successful show. Why then is the older audience an issue? Commercial sales. Children’s show also depend on toy sales, and the adults like myself who watch the show are unlikely to buy the toys advertised during the commericial break. So instead of changing the marketing, they cancel the show. Even though adult fans would definitely be willing to buy merchandise related to these shows. I know a fantastic Tumblr post that goes into more detail about this issue: https://assigned-sam-at-birth.tumblr.com/post/639411270564593664.
This Tumblr post also details the fact that this issue is often a sexist one because shows will often get canceled if they have an unexpectedly female or older audience. In this case, too, it reeks of racism because Luz is Latina. The only other animated Disney show that I know of with a Latina protagonist is Elena of Avalor, a Disney princess who can’t even get her own movie in theaters. Sigh. I am just so tired. Women and queer people are great and loyal fans of shows yet we are still punished for not being the “ideal” little cishet boy audience. Sorry for existing and consuming media, I guess. It just really goes to show us that we need representation at the very top of the food chain. Because we can have queer women writers and great art will get madem, but it will still get canceled if the execs are all just cishet white men.