Ever After High is a Netflix original series based on the Mattel dolls, which are a spinoff of the Monster High franchise. The dolls sparked a book series and an animated series, and the latter is why I’ve called you here today.
First, some background. Ever After High is about a bunch of teenagers who are the children of classic fairytale characters like Snow White, Cinderella, and Goldilocks. It’s like if Once Upon a Time and the Disney original movie Descendants had an animated toddler. They’re split into two groups: the Royals and the Rebels. The Royals are content with their prewritten destinies and strive to follow the paths they were given. The Rebels are the opposite and want to strike out on their own, create their own stories.
And take selfies, apparently
The two ladies we’re here to talk about come from opposite camps. Apple White, Snow White’s daughter, is perfectly happy being a Royal, following her mother’s lead in a quest for true love. Darling Charming, daughter of the King formerly known as Prince Charming, is a Rebel, not interested in being a damsel in distress, bound and determined to be a hero in her own right.
In the fourth chapter of most recent Netflix season, “Dragon Games,” Apple White finds herself in trouble, having eaten a poisoned apple. The boy previously assumed to be her destined One True Love, Daring Charming (Darling’s brother), gives her a kiss, just as the stories foretold. But his kiss doesn’t wake her.
Well, this sends Daring into a tizzy. He manpains around, whining about how this was his destiny; he was her prince, etc. His sister grabs him by the shoulder and tells him to snap out of it, when Darling has an idea of her own. She struts on over to Apple’s unconscious body and gives her a little mouth to mouth resuscitation.
Now THAT’S a spark!
Even though it was in the vein of CPR, as soon as their lips touch, magic shines between them, and Apple is awake, totally fine.
Apple swoons a little at the thought that Daring woke her with a kiss, but before she can ask how he kissed her from ten feet away and why Darling was standing so close to her, they realize more problems are afoot and leap into action.
The fact that Darling’s “kiss of life” as it were saved Apple could mean a few things.
I’m going to be honest: I’ve found a surprisingly small amount of backlash about this during my brief perusal. I think the OMM types (I’m afraid to type their organization’s full name out) probably sleep just fine at night telling themselves it was CPR only.
Which is problematic in itself. I’m in the camp that children’s shows should commit to telling the queer stories. It normalizes it for kids, which is good since it is normal. And doing it in subtle ways like this helps make it not a Big Deal.
It’s one of the reasons I liked the way the Disney Channel handled their queer storyline on Good Luck Charlie. One of Charlie’s friends had two moms, which caused some confusion when each of Charlie’s parents had met a different mom, which caused them and their heteronormative thinking to argue over who had the correct name, only to find out they were both right. End of storyline. Making it a non-issue was perfect for a show like that, so kids watching can either find out for the first time that two-mom families exist, kids with two moms can see a family like theirs on television and have it not be a thing, etc.
Though, honestly, either way, it’s probably a step in the right direction. There was a time where a children’s show wouldn’t even be comfortable with two girls’ lips touching even for CPR purposes, and if it did, there would be a lot of “ew” noises made. And I haven’t seen the entire series, but what I have seen is very heavy on the girl power. Not even the “Royals” seem content with being damsels in distress, and they all work together to fight the villains of their stories. So at least it’s breaking some of the traditional narratives, even if it’s not the heteronormative one we hope they start breaking soon.
What do you think, do you think it was just CPR, or do you think Ever After High is challenging more than just the tradition of ‘true love’s kiss’?