Season 2 of the Dragon Prince dropped just days ago. Because I have no self control, I’ve already binge watched the entire season. I came away having both enjoyed it and ruminating on how it handles representation.
Why is the Dragon Prince so outstanding? All it really does, at the core of things, is have a diverse cast of characters. It doesn’t make a show of it, it doesn’t trumpet about how progressive it is. The characters are treated like . . . well, normal people.
You may have already worked out what conclusion I came to. Ultimately the Dragon Prince is outstanding because what it is doing is considered a step too far by many studios.
Queercatching has become a serious issue. Queercatching is where shows will insert tiny amounts of LGBT representation to catch LGBT audiences. This is usually presented via innuendo and context clues, so that conservative audiences will never pick up on the scene.
Lefou in the live action Beauty and the Beast is definitely the most famous example of this. If it wasn’t for the gigantic controversy, few would’ve even realised he was supposed to be gay.
In contrast, the Dragon Prince Season 2 introduces new characters that deliver the promise that its creators made in season one. Any LGBT person in fandoms these days will know how surprising that actually is. A show runner or writer actually delivering LGBT characters when they say they will? No queercatching to be found?
It’s a refreshing breath of air.
Mild spoilers ahead for the Dragon Prince and Steven Universe
We are introduced to the lesbian Queens of Duran, via their daughter Aanya. Not only are we shown powerful lesbian queens, but we are shown a same-sex couple getting to raise a child. A child who is portrayed as strong and capable because of them. We then get to hear their story in a monologue from Lord Verin. It was a particularly good twist to do this during a crucial story moment, a tactic that Steven Universe has also used.
International and even US based networks have a tendency to censor LGBT content. In Steven Universe’s context, many networks give Ruby male pronouns. Ruby and Sapphire’s wedding they very deliberately put Sapphire in a tuxedo and Ruby in a dress. This made it difficult for networks to censor it like they normally would.
Further, Steven Universe combined the wedding episode with a super important plot moment. This meant that if networks didn’t air the episode at all surrounding episodes wouldn’t make sense. That hasn’t stopped people before (the famous case of Sailor Moon and the incest implications due to censorship). But The Dragon Prince definitely pulls the same trick.
The motivations of the King, Lord Verin, Amaya and ultimately the entire plot of the series are revealed in the same episode as our kickass lesbian queens. Who share a kiss on screen, I might add.
From the blind captain who pilots his ship with a seeing-eye-parrot, to the deaf General Amaya. Plus a whole host of ethnically diverse characters. The Dragon Prince is delivering the type of fantasy we need. I think the Dragon Prince just set the new bar that all fantasy needs to meet.
Header image from the Dragon Prince, used under fair use for educational or critique purposes.