A Look at Disney’s LGTBQ Characters: Cassandra (Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure)
This entry is frustrating. Anyone who knows me knows that I love Tangled and even adore the TV show so much that I have a series dedicated to reviewing material from the TV show world. I say this because we are looking at a great character that was done dirty by the show. That being the character of Cassandra. Cass is Rapunzel’s best friend/lady in waiting. And she is heavily gay coded, which is fine. She falls into what The Take describes as the stock lesbian that you’d want on your side in a fight. And yeah, considering that she knows her way with a sword is a good reason to want her on your side.
This is fine by its nature and Amber Leigh, who was a storyboard revisionist for the show confirmed on Twitter that the staff made Cass as gay coded as possible. And even when we did see Cassandra on a date with a guy in season one, it was all because she was doing an investigation.
Again, this is totally fine and for the first two seasons, I’m onboard with Cassandra being gay coded here. That is until the third season and major spoilers, turns out Cass is the biological daughter of Mother Gothel and starts to resent Rapunzel and blames her for everything that has happened. Yeah, we are dealing with a gay-coded villain.
This is majorly iffy in my opinion, one I’m just tired of gay-coded villains in general and also because Cassandra’s anger was misplaced. Let’s start with the former.
….female villains are devious and corrupting in comparison to their sweet, wholesome heroines (Maleficent, Ursula, the Wicked Stepmother, Mother Gothel, etc.). These villainous depictions are direct holdouts from the days when creators were encouraged to present queer women as corrupting influences and queer men as less than manly.
Now Cassandra isn’t deceptive or cruel like her mother and part of that comes from she is being manipulated by the bigger bad, Zhan Tiri but as I said, I feel as though her anger is misplaced. Let’s take a look at her song, “Crossing The Line” from the season three opener.
This is a major area of her placing the blame and that is what frustrates me. I’m not mad at Cass but rather just think she’s misguided.
But I’ve never got the chances you were givenYou don’t know how much I’ve been denied
Well, I’m not being patient anymore
On the same token, it’s understandable when one looks at this through the lens of the gay-coding and understanding that Cass is lashing out in the sense that Rapunzel as a straight woman and a princess will only have a heads up in life. That is where her season two song, “Waiting in the Wings” is a bit more important.
This song is one of the most heartbreaking songs in the whole series and speaks to how people feel left out. If we take into consideration the gay-coding, there is a certain sense where LGBTQ people feel left out. Speaking as a bi person, I know it often feels as though the B is left out of LGBTQ. But sticking to women, this is perhaps more important when looking at Cass. As PinkNews reported on a survey of how gay and nonbinary women feel left out of LGBTQ places.
The research quizzed 300 women and non-binary people, with 79 percent in agreement that gay men have more visibility and are better catered to. It was conducted by Sappho Events, a new LGBT+ company that runs safe, sober and social events for women and non-binary people who love women.
Looking at it this way is understandable as the world does cater more to men than women and women like what Cassandra is singing about yearn to be able to prove their worth but are rarely given that chance. In that sense, I get where Cassandra is coming from but I still find it frustrating that Cass went about in such a destructive way.
I understand everyone’s journey of self-discovery is different and as much as I love this show, I feel like the handling of Cassandra and her gay-coding was mixed at best. Ah well, join me next time as I finally tackle Penumbra from DuckTales
4 thoughts on “A Look at Disney’s LGTBQ Characters: Cassandra (Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure)”
Definitely sounds like they didn’t think through all the implications with Cassandra’s arc. Rather unfortunate, but at least they didn’t go so far as character assassination.
It’s so weird as she does redeem herself in the series finale (also this is the second time a friend of Rapunzel’s turns evil) but once she became a villain, she stopped thinking logically and started acting emotionally. Which goes against how Cassandra acted in the first two seasons.
Not a sign of good writing when you change a character’s entire personality just to match the new direction you want to go with them.
I love, the show, it’s one of my favorite shows of all time but making Cass a villain really threw her character off track as she was now more apt to blame all of her misfortune on Rapunzel. That’s seen in Crossing the Line where she tells Rapunzel that she never got the chances Rapunzel was given. Seemingly forgetting her mother kidnapped Rapunzel and abandoned Cassandra at three years old. But while Rapunzel was being held captive by Gothel, Cassandra had a father figure as the Captain of the Guards adapted her.