One of my favorite fairy tales is Cinderella and my favorite Muppet is Gonzo. Over the weekend, I saw clips of the new Muppet Babies with Gonzo in a princess dress where he said that he just wanted his friends to accept him for who he is. So, I had to see this.
On the surface, it’s the new Muppet Babies doing their take on Cinderella with Gonzo but looking past that, it’s breaking down old and outdated gender norms. You see Piggy and Summer are going to throw a royal ball and Gonzo wants to wear a princess dress but according to Royal Handbook, the girls have, boys must dress like knights. And Gonzo is less than thrilled by that idea. However, Rizzo reveals himself to be a Fairy Rat Father and gives Gonzo a princess dress like the one that they saw in the Cinderella story and a hard-boiled convertible.
While at the ball as Gonzo-rella, Gonzo shows his friends that it can be fun to try new things. And well, that part is great but even more than that, this episode does something so important for its young audience in showing that it’s okay to like things that may not align with gender norms. This is similar to the short film, The Little Prince(ss) by the nonbinary director, Moxie Peng.
This episode isn’t as deep as that short film but it is still great and I noticed so many NB and trans people on Twitter saying that they had always related to Gonzo and the clip got excited when Piggy used they/them pronouns to refer to the princess that came to the ball. It was so sweet and my heart broke a little for Gonzo when he had to leave the ball as he thought his friends wouldn’t accept him if they knew he was the princess. Turns out, they didn’t care and threw the old handbook away and had a lot of fun with Gonzo as a princess. The biggest part that really clicked for so many people is when Gonzo said
…I don’t want to do things just because that’s the way, they’ve always been done either. I want to be me!
I imagine for so many in the LGBTQ+ community, this line connected because of how much society has forced us to hide who we truly and when Gonzo says he wants to be his authentic self, there was a sense of connection and freedom. Now, this isn’t the first time that I’ve seen themes like this in a Cinderella story as there is a trans Cinderella story called Jamie
The difference here though I think is in using a character such as Gonzo, audiences can feel comfort and familiarity in the message that is being sent. It also goes past the usual Be Yourself message that so many kid’s shows have as while yes, that is a part of the episode, it is also chipping away at the gender norms that have been in place for years. I’m reminded of a segment from the ABC show, What Would You Do? featuring a boy that wanted a Disney Princess Halloween costume.
The parent (this was an act) was aghast and hated the idea and even some onlookers thought it was wrong. I hope episodes such as this show that there is nothing wrong with boys wanted to wear princess dresses. Like the blog, Mommy University writes of her youngest son.
He does not see “girl” and “boy” characters like so many would like to believe. He sees them as characters that can problem solve, help out their friends and lead others.
I feel that this is so important as princess characters can impart important messages to children whether it be Cinderella being kind or Rapunzel learning to stand up for herself and others.
My Final Thoughts
This is such a great episode with such a beautiful message for the next generation. Using Gonzo was the perfect choice for this story too. I know it’s a Disney Junior show but I’d seriously recommend checking this episode out as it is just so sweet.