The Little Mermaid TV Series: Gabriella
Remember when Disney had a cute, disabled, poc mermaid?
When i was younger, one of my best friends was a deaf guyanese girl, and her fave princess was Ariel, mainly bc she related to her living without a voice (and her love of swimming)
When this episode aired, she cried and squawked and made sounds that were almost understandable… She saw herself as a mermaid, on tv, with her favourite character of all time
Representation matters, always, no matter what
I swear I was thinking about this episode recently, and what’s extra-important about it that doesn’t get across in this gifs is that the episode she was in was about her and Ariel journeying to a mythical being said to grant wishes, because Ariel wanted legs to dance with and Gabriella wanted to be able to talk. What happened though is that the end of the episode, after all the dangers they went through, it turned out said mythical being actually had no magic and couldn’t grant either of their wishes. As upset as they both were, they both decided to take away from the experience that even if you wish you had different abilities than the ones you have, the best thing to do is to learn to accept yourself and be happy with what you are.
The metaphor breaks down, of course, when considering EVERYTHING about the actual movie the tv series is based off of, but given how many stories with disabled characters end with “AND THEN THEY WERE MIRACULOUSLY CURED”, a story that ends on the note that as a disabled person you can learn to accept and like yourself as you are is a pretty good message to take away from a Saturday morning TV show.
(also, another thing that’s not clear in the gifs but is also important: The octopus with Gabriellla isn’t just her friend and companion, he’s also her interpreter. I think this was one of the first times I ever saw a person with a speech disability depicted with an interpreter anywhere in popular media.)