Pop Culture

Ever After High Gives Mainstream Animation Its First Gay Princess

There have been a lot of rumors that the eagerly anticipated sequel to Frozen will reveal Elsa to be the first gay Disney Princess (though she is actually a queen). That will be a great leap forward in terms of representation of gay characters in media, but if it happens, Disney will have been beaten to the punch by the most recent season of Ever After High.

The show follows the children of famous fairy-tale figures like Snow White and the Mad Hatter as they attend school. It’s a spin-off of Mattel’s Monster High brand, but the animation quality and the writing are way better. Also, there are fewer puns, and Allah be praised because I’m not sure how many more times I can hear “ghoulfriend” and keep my sanity. Watching the new episodes and specials when they premiere on Netflix is a regular family activity in my house.

The latest special, Dragon Games, was just released in January. Raven Queen’s mother, The Evil Queen, gets released from her magical mirror prison and begins to take over the school. Meanwhile, Apple White, Snow’s daughter, betrays her roommate and best friend, Raven, to help the Evil Queen, who promises to help her fulfill her fairy-tale destiny. Apple eventually realizes the Evil Queen is tricking her, and goes to help Raven, only to fall under an enchanted sleep from a poison apple.

From the beginning of the series, Apple has been paired with Daring Charming, one of the many children of Prince Charming who attend Ever After High including his sister, Darling. Daring’s an okay guy. He’s narcissistic to a fault, but not cruelly so. He cares a lot about the other characters, especially Apple and his family, but he comes across as obnoxiously superior and turbo bro.

By contrast there’s Darling. She started off as a shy bookworm, but in last season’s Wonderland arc, it was revealed that she moonlights as a knight in white armor. Her family until then treated her as little more than a convenient damsel for hero practice, but she’s blossomed into one of the show’s stronger characters.

With Apple under her spell, Daring steps forward to deliver the kiss to wake her, but it fails to do so and devastates his self-esteem. Darling tries to snap him out of it, but they are interrupted when Apple suddenly stops breathing. Rushing to her side, Darling leans in to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and when their lips touch, the spell is broken.

There’s some thoughts to unpack here, as Valerie Anne brought up. The message here could be that magic and wishing don’t fix things; action and stuff like CPR fix things. It would tie in nicely with the show’s premise of choosing to make your own destiny. Or it could be a nod to the idea of sisterly or platonic love seen in Frozen, which is also pretty consistent.

Or it could be that Darling is freakin’ gay and that she actually is Apple’s Princess Charming. Sure, the show took the easy way out and used CPR as a convenient excuse for any pearl clutchers and One Million Moms, but if the kiss doesn’t hurt doll sales any, who’s to say that the show can’t go further. It’s certainly the most logical thing for Apple’s character arc. She’s basically stuck being the popular girl who really loves all the privilege she enjoys and is trying hard to understand what it’s like for others with less happy destinies. Pairing her romantically with Darling, who both embodies and rejects the traditional fairy-tale paradigms, would give Apple a taste of the other side in a way her friendship with Raven really doesn’t since Raven and Apple’s fates are inherently in opposition.

It’s time for this sort of thing. It’s time for gay little girls to see their princesses end up with the woman of their dreams instead of silently enduring another lesson in what is expected of them instead of what they actually want. Gay little boys, too, for that matter.

I don’t know if the script for Frozen 2 is still being written. Last I heard, Idina Menzel (Elsa) said it was still unfinished, but that was nearly a year ago. If it is still in process, I hope Disney sees what Ever After High has quietly accomplished and thinks long and hard about what ground the company could break in what is sure to be the biggest animated hit of 2018. Because I’ve got to tell you, watching Darling kiss Apple got a very big “Awwwwwwww” from both me and my little girl. 

Jef's collection of short stories about vampires and drive-thru churches, The Rook Circle, is out now. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter
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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner