Why Sofia the First Will End in a Bloody Civil War
"Remember, your family is totally capable of ordering your bloody death for petty reasons."
My primary hobby in the world is overanalyzing the complex feudal politics of the kingdoms in Disney. It's how I relax. I've already explained before how Brave is not just the story of a plucky young woman finding the strength to be who she really is, but also a complex plot by her father to ensure that his line will maintain the loyalty of the lords underneath him through a combination of feminism and perpetual hope of a union. There was also my bit about how Elsa's status as a woman who is not defined by her romantic partner might be the lesson young girls need in the modern world, but creates a problem if Arendelle is to know continued peace.
Lately the princess that my daughter has been shoving into my eyeholes continuously is Sofia of the show Sofia the First. It's not a bad show, most of the time. The focus remains on learning how to be kind and fair, which is certainly something that we can all agree the world needs more of.
However, after sitting through probably my 125th episode I suddenly realized that if the tale of Sofia is taken far enough it's definitely doing to end in a blood civil war.
The problem is this... her step-siblings James and Amber are twins. Now, Amber is the eldest by seven minutes, but King Roland has stated on several occasions that James is the heir apparent. There's not really any reason for the passing over of Amber, so we're forced to assume that for some reason the kingdom of Enchancia does not allow women to ascend the throne. Or at least, not if there's a good enough excuse for keeping them off of it.
TicketsSat., Mar. 4, 8:00pm
Je'Caryous Johnson's "Married But Single Too"
TicketsFri., Mar. 10, 8:00pm
The Illusionists - Live From Broadway (Touring)
TicketsSat., Mar. 11, 4:00pm
The King and I (Touring)
TicketsTue., Mar. 14, 7:30pm
Brain Candy LIVE: Adam Savage & Michael Stevens
TicketsThu., Mar. 23, 8:00pm
This is a recipe for civil strife in any kingdom, but throughout most of the show Amber seems to be content with her lot as an eternal princess as long as it doesn't affect her ability to enjoy royal finery. All of that sort of comes to a halt, though, in the episode "King for a Day". In that adventure, Roland decides to essentially test his son's readiness for the throne by giving him power while he, Miranda, and Amber take a day trip. Amber waves off the slight insult of instilling her brother with temporary regency, but is content to watch him fail as she taunts he will.
Amber is right, and James proves to mostly be a terrible leader with little regard for the consequences of his actions. A festival he throws wakes a sleeping giant, something Sofia, her friends, and even James' own court sorcerer advise against although Cedric follows his command regardless. Crisis is averted, and to James' credit he largely takes control of the situation handily, but there's no argument that had he listened to his stepsister there would have been no problem to solve in the first place.
Roland recognizes that, and jokingly suggests that next time it should be Queen for a Day, with Sofia the recipient of the power. The suggestion clearly shocks Amber. We can assume her twin and lawful biological heir to the throne is one thing, but a common-born adopted sibling being handed power over her is quite another.
The episode where we remember that the Evil Queen must have once been the Evil Princess
The show doesn't change much from the incident, but examples of increased competitiveness between the twins become much more commonplace. Nearly always, Sofia is forced to reconcile the two in the name of family and love, but neither James nor Amber seem to really take the lessons to heart judging by subsequent adventures.
We get look into a world ruled by Amber in the special The Curse of Princess Ivy. In that outing, Amber confronts her sister over the powers of her magical amulet, and Sofia finally reveals its powers of animal speech and summoning legendary princesses as oracles. Eaten up by jealousy that she has never "had a turn" with the magical artifact, Amber justifies herself into stealing the Amulet of Avalor from Sofia when she is sleeping. As a result, the amulet curses her and summons the evil princess Ivy to wreak havoc on Enchancia. Once again, it's up to Sofia to guide her elder sibling to a righteous path.
Increasingly this paints a picture of two highly competitive siblings each with a good claim on the throne and both of whom have shown a readiness to see the other fail but who are not on their own qualified to rule. Instead, it's their adopted sister who is clearly the more capable future regent despite her status regarding succession.
This gets more and more apparent as the show goes on that some sort of sweeping social change is coming to Enchancia. For instance, Sofia's very act of having been chosen by the amulet over Roland's biological daughter says something about the shifting importance of her coming role in the affairs of state. Then there's the fact that Roland's own older sister Tilly, who was also apparently passed over as heir, takes Sofia under her wing to test her worthiness on a series of adventures. Add in the ever-increasing magical powers and teachings she receives through the amulet with her clearly superior progress through magical arts over her siblings (Including private tutorials from Cedric) and Sofia has become the most competent magician in the royal family.
"So, if I act European enough your dad will give me back the piece of my heritage he just took off the beach and arbitrarily decided to be be the master of?
Then there's her other work to consider. She single-handedly avoided a potential war with the mermaids, possibly ensuing a naval alliance and increased military advantage for her father. She ended an apartheid and civil rights problem in the kingdom through her work with the local troll tribes. She averts yet another diplomatic blunder committed by the King, who in a kind of racist move nearly awards another magical artifact to an imposter of Princess Lei-Lani of Hakalo because she more capably apes proper Western princess behavior whereas Lei-Lani displays the customs of her actual homeland. Her elder siblings had small hands in deeds like that, but by and large have nothing similar to show themselves as capable regents.
That's a problem because as Sofia hold popular appeal both from deeds and for her connection to the common people of the kingdom, it puts increasing pressure on Roland to pass over his own inferior children. Though Amber and James are more than capable of working together to accomplish things, it's often only because they have the impartial wisdom of Sofia to lean on to do so. United against her, an alliance between them is almost certainly doomed to fail from the start, and will result only in something similar to James' giant fiasco or Amber's summoning of Ivy. This time, though, their sister won't be on hand to save things.
It's possible that Roland might persuade his children to accept Sofia's ascendency. He could even marry her to James as there is no biological reason not to and plenty of fairytale precedent for that sort of thing. Of course, Roland is rather oblivious and kind of an idiot, so there's not much hope for that.
Instead, I'm willing to bet that Sofia will eventually be forced to imprison, exile, or flat out have her siblings executed if whatever jealousy-driven scheme they come up with to oppose the coming Sorceress-Queen has deadly enough consequences. Logically, this is the only possible outcome in this particular Game of Thrones.
Why else would the show be called Sofia the First?
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in Houston.