The Owl House deserves better


Vassili Prokopenko

The series “The Owl House,” which Disney foolishly cancelled over the summer, is more than just entertaining; it helps to normalize queerness in children’s media.

By Maya Goelman

Searching for a television show that my two younger sisters and I can all enjoy is never an easy feat, especially considering there’s an age gap of almost seven years between me and the youngest. There’s plenty of trial and error involved, and finding content that is both appropriate and engaging is quite the balancing act. As the eldest, I end up doing most of the compromising, meaning we mainly watch children’s cartoons. 

If you aren’t as immersed in the world of kid’s television as I am, the popular Disney Channel series The Owl House might have flown under your radar. The show follows fantasy-loving teenager Luz, who stumbles upon a portal to a demon realm — yes, you read that right — where she meets a rebellious witch named Eda. The witch proceeds to mentor Luz as she attempts to fulfill her dream of learning magic like the characters from the fantasy books she loves. The masterpiece of a television show is full of compelling plot points, mysterious twists, meaningful character development and relationships and quite possibly the most stunning action sequences ever put to animation.

Media attention for The Owl House has consisted primarily of deserved praise for the groundbreaking LGBTQ+ representation the show features. Creator Dana Terrace modeled Luz after her own experiences as a bisexual Latina, and the protagonist develops a romantic relationship with her female love interest Amity Blight as the story continues. From dancing together in season one’s prom episode to Luz finally calling Amity her girlfriend in the second season, I have watched with unbridled joy and awe as an overtly gay relationship developed between main characters in a Disney Channel show. The Owl House also introduced Disney’s first-ever nonbinary character in season two. The show creators and writers navigate the frontier of representation with grace, never treating their LGBTQ characters as anything out of the ordinary and subsequently helping to normalize queerness in children’s media. 

 While the inclusion of queer content in the show is fantastic, The Owl House is full of so many other attributes that make it children’s television perfection. Witty and self-referential, The Owl House constantly subverts classic fantasy tropes while still displaying a deep love for the works it draws inspiration from — perfect for those who grew up as Harry Potter fans. The worldbuilding for the show is outstanding; the setting of the delightfully horrifying Boiling Isles gives the impression of a fully-formed and encompassing world, and the magic system is about as logical and fascinating as one could get. With a well-constructed, thrilling plot and satisfying twists that leave fans theorizing, The Owl House frequently seems like a spiritual successor to my generation’s Disney Channel fantasy show, Gravity Falls. This isn’t even to mention the show’s seriously talented voice actors and gorgeously fluid fight animation. 

When season two began airing on June 12 of this year, The Owl House was at the top of its game. It seemed as though nothing could go wrong.

Unfortunately, in mid-July, Terrace announced on Twitter that Disney had canceled The Owl House, and thereby season three — which the network had quietly picked up in May of 2021 — would be the show’s last. Terrace also revealed that Disney executives had cut down this final season from a full-length sequence of episodes to merely three 44-minute specials. Fans took to Twitter to express their disappointment, quickly putting “#SavetheOwlHouse” at the top of the social media platform’s “trending” list, but Terrace confirmed that there was no possibility of an extended season three, stating that it was “a battle [she’d] been raging for the past year” to no avail. 

However, Terrace expressed hope toward the idea of future Owl House content in the form of spin-offs, shorts or comics, as long as fans continued to support the show by watching it on Disney+.

I am upset that network executives are cutting short a show as necessary as The Owl House, especially since its leap forward in representation has had the potential to help millions of children feel less alone. However, while hearing about this excellent show’s abrupt end left me deeply disappointed, I was also unsurprised. Disney has a history of censoring queer content in its cartoons, forcing many creators to leave the nature of these relationships ambiguous, and even to cut background allusions to the LGBTQ+ community. I am beyond frustrated at Disney’s hypocrisy in continuing to rake in diversity points by bragging about their many “first” gay characters — a phenomenon so consistent it’s an internet meme — while shutting down shows with real representation, like Andi Mack and Love, Victor, as soon as they get “too queer.” 

So here is my impassioned plea: stream The Owl House. When a show as phenomenal as this comes around, it’s imperative that it succeeds. I want this series to be more than a short-lived gem in a sea of forgettable kids’ cartoons; I want it to be a step forward into a new era of representation in children’s media. The world deserves more shows like this one.