Disney Channel morning line-up outshines PBS in female characters

Last week, we were on Spring break and staying at the house of a friend of mine up in Tahoe. The TV channels were different, and we found ourselves watching the Disney Channel in the morning. I was pleasantly surprised by it. Possibly, in part, because my expectations were so low. Or perhaps, because I was so disgusted and appalled by the domination of male protagonists on PBS, the “educational” station.

Here is what we watched: “Doc McStuffins.”


Dottie McStuffins is a six year old girl who wants to grow up to be a doctor like her mother. Her animal friends, 2 female and 2 male, help her out fixing and healing. How cool is that? Also, she’s African-American. Some stuff bugs me, like her purple glittery doctor’s bag along with various other pink and purpleness, but mostly, I love this show. Reel Girl rates Doc McStuffins ***HHH/ S***

Next up is “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.”


Obviously, Jake is the star. And, surprise, surprise, there are 2 main male characters to one female character. Not only that, the Minority Feisty is Pirate Princess. Gag. But, in every episode I saw, she had a big part, second to Jake, and she was smart, brave, and helped to save the day. Clearly, Princess Pirate’s power is safely circumscribed by pink and the more heroic Jake, but Reel Girl rates Jake and the Neverland Pirates ***H/SS***

And finally, “Princess Sofia.”


I was so dismayed when I heard about the debut of this supposedly Hispanic princess that Disney decided to make light-skinned and blue-eyed that I didn’t even blog about her. When I finally watched her last week, I liked her okay. The show surprised me in some ways. For example, the princesses had to design their “dream castle.” I groaned, dreading decorating tips. I was thrilled when Sofia said that in her castle, she wanted a laboratory for a Sorceress and a stable for flying ponies. My 4 year old daughter was pretty excited about that too. My main complaint with the show– as with the Barbie movies–is the look of the females. If we could just get them out of the puffy dresses that are so endlessly distracting, it might be a good show. Unfortunately, the way its stands, the message girls get (and boys about girls) is first and foremost, girls must look a certain way. Once you get the look down, adventures and exciting things might just happen to you. If you don’t look this way, you’re invisible, you don’t exist at all. Also, I HATE that demure, shy way she’s standing. Ugh. Reel Girl rates “Princess Sofia” ***H/SS***

9 thoughts on “Disney Channel morning line-up outshines PBS in female characters

  1. By the way, Princess Pirate is actually Izzy.

    Also, you forgot to talk about the five minute long show, Minnie’s BowToons. This is one of the very few times that Minnie Mouse is a main protagonist. How do you rate this show?

  2. Hi Cat,

    Doc McStuffins is a new kind of character. Princess Pirate is also a princess. I wouldn’t mind one princess of many leads in the morning line up, but there are few females and fewer non-princesses. Princess Pirate lacks a puffy dress but her princess identity is firmly in tact.


  3. That Sofia show bugs me. I think the overall theme is supposed to be that the regular girls (Sofia’s old friends) are better than her new princess friends, who are all kinda snobby – but I only see little girls imitating the princesses after watching the show. 🙁

    Sofia wasn’t ever actually meant to be Hispanic though – some non-high-up dumbass who works for Disney thought that because she is from Spain, that makes her Hispanic (nope!) and added that into one of the press releases before the show came out. Disney always intended her to be yet another blue-eyed white European princess. [Because they needed another one of those? Please.]

    • Hi laurakqb,

      It is so disturbing how kids imaginary play right after watching these shows! Interesting about Sofia’s ethnicity. I remember seeing her all over my Twitter feed and facebook, and I just couldn’t face reading all the posts. I do remember the early ones saying she was Hispanic and then later ones questioning her blue eyes and white skin. I did not realize it actually got as far as she never was Hispanic. Argh. I did not watch enough shows to pick up on the make new friends but keep the old theme.


  4. “If we could just get them out of the puffy dresses that are so endlessly distracting, it might be a good show. Unfortunately, the way its stands, the message girls get (and boys about girls) is first and foremost, girls must look a certain way.”

    You just talked about three different kinds of female characters. There is already variety. There needs to be a place for the Sofia’s of the world. All girls don’t inherently love the Sofia princess aesthetic but there are some girls who are attracted to that ballgowns and sparkle and pink and purple. As long as there is balance, I think Sofia should be allowed to exist.

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