Since its debut in 2012, the Disney Jr. show "Doc McStuffins" has been widely praised for featuring an empowered African American girl as its main character. In a recent episode the show went another step towards inclusion by featuring a family with same-sex parents.
The episode, which, notably isn't about the family having two moms, is about the importance of having an emergency plan. The actresses Wanda Sykes and Portia de Rossi voice the mother characters.
Since its airing earlier this month, a conservative organization called One Million Moms complained about the show’s including a same-sex family.
Meanwhile, others supported the show with the #StandWithDoc hashtag on Twitter.
"Doc McStuffins" creator Chris Nee is in a same-sex marriage and is a mom herself. When she visited The Frame with Wanda Sykes, she explained why she wanted to include a same-sex couple in her show now.
We think it's really important to see yourself onscreen. For us, we're 120 episodes into this particular series and we have one episode of all of them that features a same-sex family. We just want to represent the world as it is.
Sykes, who is also in a same-sex marriage and is a mother, says her decision to join this particular episode was for personal reasons.
I love the show. My kids watch the show. My daughter went as Doc McStuffins for a couple halloweens. [The episode] was not about them being a same-sex couple. They just happened to be. It's so funny because that's the way my kids watched that episode. They didn't say, "Hey, it's two moms. They said, "Hey, do we have an emergency plan?"
The positive reaction to the recent episode in the media and on Twitter, along with Disney's willingness to air the show, to Nee, indicated a shift toward inclusivity in children's programming.
I think the response completely makes it clear why it was important, and why it was important for Disney to say, we want to represent what's actually out there and what kids are experiencing – either with their own families or with other families in their schools.
Both Sykes and Nee say their children have many opportunities to know other same-sex couples and be with other same-sex families. In some ways, the episode could be more emotional for adults who haven't seen themselves on screen in children's television.
A lot of kids growing up now — they're not aware of the controversy. So they are just watching this episode and not seeing what, to us, is a remarkable moment. And I do often think it's the parents that are crying sitting and watching this kids TV show because we're bringing the history of what it was to come out in the '80s, to live in the '90s, to go through the 2000s to get to this place right now.
"Doc McStuffins" episodes are available on the Disney app and on Disney Jr VOD.
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