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Pretty Pretty Princess

Disney Debuts Their New Pre-School Princess, Sofia The First

Besides Disney being the House of Mouse, they’re also the Palace of Princess. Today, they’ve added a new, younger royal to their ranks. Her name is Sofia and she’s part of their all-new fairytale line beginning next year. Here’s our first look at the tiny-Princess… 

Deadline writes, “Sofia The First, which will premiere as an animated TV movie in fall 2012 and continue as a series set to bow in spring 2013 on Disney Channel and Disney Junior channels worldwide.” It will be aimed at the pre-school demographic.

“In Sofia, we have a ‘peer to peer princess,’ a relatable girl experiencing the same social issues as our young viewers – learning how to fit in, making new friends, conquering new skills and building sibling relationships,” said Nancy Kanter, SVP Original Programming and General Manager of Disney Junior Worldwide.

Sofia “is whisked off to a glamorous but often confusing castle world of royalty, pomp and new step-siblings after her mom marries the king.” A cool tidbit about the project? Aurora’s fairy godmothers from Sleeping Beauty Fauna, Flora and Merryweather will be the headmistresses at Sofia’s school. Cinderella and other princesses are also expected to make cameo appearances.

Sofia the First also has a fantastic cast attached. “Ariel Winter (ABC’s Modern Family) will provide the voice of Sofia; the voice cast also includes Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy) as Queen Miranda; Wayne Brady (Whose Line Is It Anyway?) as Clover, a wise-talking rabbit; and Tim Gunn (Project Runway) as Baileywick, the family’s Royal Steward.”

Tim. Gunn.

Sadly, because of the photo, my first reaction to this was Toddlers in Tiaras. I’m sure that’s not at all what Disney had in mind but well, there you go. I’m not sure if that’s what they were referring to but I found this in a story about the show on the NY Times website:

But Disney is also keenly aware of the potential for criticism and emphasizes that “Sofia the First” will focus on learning and what it says are age-appropriate themes. Lessons will include the importance of getting along with siblings and how to be a kind and generous person.

Sofia will have “plenty of pretty dresses and sparkly shoes,” said Nancy Kanter, general manager for Disney Junior Worldwide, but episodes will teach viewers that “what makes a real princess is what’s inside, not what’s outside.

Sounds like it could be interesting. What are your thoughts on a younger princess?

(via Deadline)

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  • Anonymous

    It’s pretty smart – most parents’ complaints with the Disney princesses are that they are connected to fables that are less than empowering to girls. So they create a princess from scratch, without any of those associations. Here’s hoping they keep the pretty dresses and ditch the misogyny. 

  • Anonymous

    I really like that she’ll have a blended family; a lot of kids are going to relate to that, and it might even help them cope a little.

  • Sarah

    Sort of turns me off that her head is bigger than her waist. If we’re going for a pre-pubescent princess, why does she need a tiny waist?

  • ainok

    When I was a kid we had She-Ra. She was a relatable princess!

  • Vera

    Ah, here we go again — of course Mommy has to marry a king (or marry at all) to make Sophia a princess, another light-skinned huge-eyed crazy-body-proportioned …  agh, my head’s exploding.  Seriously, there is NOTHING FOR A **BOY** from Disney anymore. You are either a pirate, a robot or a prince who has to marry a girl to validate either of you.

  • Emily

    The premise so far seems rather solid- a young girl coping in a new life is relatable to many kids, especially since it’s due to a new marriage. It seems like they’re putting a positive emphasis on this too- definitely an improvement from the wicked stepmother trope.

    As for character design I can understand it from a marketing standpoint. For some reason big heads and slim bodies are the in thing for bodies in advertising. Personally, I wish they had gone with a style more like Dora the Explorer.

  • Rachel Banzhaf

    As the mother of a one-year-old daughter, I’m going to become familiar with this whether I like it or not. But I like the work Disney has done with Tinkerbell in recent years so I have a lot of hope for this. I just hope they make it available streaming or on disc since I refuse to get cable. 

    Sofia herself looks like chibi-Belle in Cinderella’s gown. Having recently visited a Disney Store, I saw a huge selection of similarly styled dolls of all the princesses. When I saw this post I half expected a “Muppet Babies” series with princesses! 

  • Nick Martin

    I think that’s a common modern trend in the depiction of child cartoon characters. There are a lot of recent cartoons and video games that draw child characters with oversized heads and small bodies. I think it is meant as a way to maintain the illusion of pre-pubescence while at the same time emphasizing the neoteny of the characters.

  • Anonymous

    Two words: “Phineas” and “Ferb”

    Some of the criticisms of Disney are qualified; But I think they’ve made some real steps, especially in their animated television divisions, in creating some equality in their characters.

  • Anonymous

    They’d have to create a blended family. I don’t think any of the official Princesses have two parents.

  • Anonymous

    “When I saw this post I half expected a “Muppet Babies” series with princesses!”

    Wait for it. I’m still expecting a series in four or five years with all the princesses as pre-teens at boarding school.

  • Allison Cole

    Except that the problem isn’t with the narratives that the princesses are connected to. It’s with the total character assassination that too often happens in the marketing department after the fact. Far too many well drawn female characters from Disney films, such as Mulan or Tiana, are completely stripped of any trace of the individuality or complexity that defined them onscreen by the lamentable “Disney Princess” line of products for young girls. I don’t know how to feel about this show. I would honestly prefer it if Disney’s marketing division could offer girls more options when it comes to role models. This is just another princess.         

  • Mark

    And with a name like that, I was hoping for Disney’s first Latina princess. I guess my little cousins will have to make due with Kuzco :|

  • Anonymous

    I was also expecting a little dark-haired, brown-skin princess. Reality has trumped expectation again.

    I’m also not super thrilled that Disney is aiming even younger, once again, to give little girls a princess complex. Why can’t we get Disney to make another Kim Possible? Or their version of The Powerpuff Girls? It’s so predictable to have all the girl’s shows be about princesses.

  • Nick Gaston

    It’ll all go well until the third season, when Sofia leads a republican revolutionary front to overthrow the incompetant and out-of-touch monarchy…until, sadly, the revolution is coopted by radical Islamist and hardline Maoist factions, leading to a decade of civil war and balkanization.

    The moral of the story being, of course, to keep a careful balance between political reliability and actual combat skill when choosing your lieutenants. Oh, and to always follow your heart and listen to the Earth and your feet will guide you home. Something like that.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, I don’t think they could’ve made her look more generic.

  • Rose Jones

    If only they were with WB instead of Disney then Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather could have been Headmistresses of Hogwarts :D On a side note if the show can teach girls that even a princess should be kind, generous, and respectful (instead of stealing from stores and yelling at parents) then I say let Disney go for it.

  • Anonymous

    See also: All of Pixar creations.

  • Anonymous

    Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel (Tangled), and Mulan all have both parents.

  • Kalynn Osburn

    I know it’s perfect for the demographic it was made for, but…well…

    There is nothing interesting about this character in any way what so ever. There is nothing unusual about her design. Nothing exciting or original, and nothing new. I thought Disney said they weren’t going to do princesses any more unless they could find a new way to do it. This is just The Princess Diaries for little girls.

  • Mark

    I guess it’s just to make due with what materials you’re given. If Disney makes billions of dollars selling Disney Princess merch, that means that they can make empowering messeges in the brand that will reach a lot of children, even if the characters doing the empowerment are in dresses.

  • Anna B

    She doesn’t look like a toddler.

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    At the expense of the female characters, actually. Phineas’ older sister is a shallow, dumb, boy-obsessed, prone-to-hysteria female who has none of the talent or contentment of her brothers. She’s only there as comic relief. I’d hardly call that equal unless you mean that as long as Disney ignores one gender in each show, that’s okay.

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    Just to be fair, ‘Sofia’ is also an Eastern European name, so it didn’t surprise me that she was white. Disappointed me, but didn’t surprise me.

  • Heather Sanchez

    My daughter’s name is Sofia and I like this version because it looks a lot like her.  She is half latina and she is light skinned with light brown hair.  My Sofia is going to be very excited.  Like it or not, little girls love the princesses.  I am looking forward to giving it an open mind and if it isn’t exactly what I want her to see or hear, I will have a conversation with her about it.  Or, turn it off. 

  • Anonymous

    My little sister is excited for this princess, because she reminds her of Belle and Cinderella, but it makes me wonder what happened to Melody from the little mermaid 2. She was an awesome character. I am sure that this show will be interesting, but I wish the shows they put on carried off with the tales they already have 

  • Anonymous

  • Emily Hill

    I personaly like it my six year old niece says she wishes there was a princess her age so this is perfect thank you disney

  • Anonymous

    When you think about it she has every reason to be wound so tight–the inventions just keep disappearing and all. Candace is supposed to be relatable. What older sibling hasn’t seen their younger siblings do something they think they’d get in trouble for doing at their siblings’ age then tried to get them in trouble for it only for them to hide it, or stop playing, or mom not to care, or a platypus secret agent to accidentally zap it out of the sky? To be fair, most of the time Candace herself is not the joke, but the reality of her less than fair world. When she tries really hard to bust her brothers and the thing is not there anymore, the joke isn’t “Candace is so crazy” it’s “why is Mom so busy and the whole world working against me when it comes to my younger siblings?” which is what a kid feels in their life all the time.

    I’ve always seen the show through Candace’s eyes…the world works against her not because it’s a cartoon, but because she’s the kid with that childish mentality.

    I agree it doesn’t work so well to have Candace as the like only female character tho. Isabella and Mrs. Fletcher aren’t enough…Vanessa shows up sometimes?

  • Anonymous

    At least if she’s a little girl her world won’t be focused around romance which is usually one of the main concerns I’ve always had with little girls’ princess obsession. The three fairies being in this makes it sound promising.

  • James Perrone

    where’s my Italian princess?

  • Madison Huffman

    That would be somewhat interesting actually

  • Stephanie FitzSimon

    I think everyone needs to calm down about race and princesses. Disney has had a middle eastern one in Jasmine,  African American in Tiana, an indian one in Pocahontas, an Asian one in Mulan, and the reason there are several white princesses is A the demographic they are trying to sell to and B they are based on European fairy tales which means they are white. I don’t see why it makes a huge difference. I am of Irish decent and had no problem at all when Princess and the Frog came out and my little girl loved Princess Tiana. So why shouldn’t other little girls from different cultures be able to look up to Cinderella and Snow White? Saying you can only like the princess if she is from the same ethnicity as you is ridiculous and people need to get over it.  Let the little girls just enjoy the nice stories and stop reading so much into it. Disney is better than stuff on cartoon network and other shows, I will stick with Disney always.

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    I hadn’t thought about it as making Candace the character the audience can relate to, though I’ve definitely wanted her mother to finally believe her for a change more than once. But unfortunately that aspect of her inclusion in the show doesn’t change that she’s shallow, boy-obsessed and not particularly bright. I love Isabella, though for me she’s really the only positive female character on the show, and even then her main motivation is her crush on Phineas.

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    I completely agree with you about Tinkerbelle. Disney’s made her into a super-smart, brave engineer. My son loves her and I couldn’t be happier about that. So maybe they’ll do right by Sofia as well.

  • Anonymous

     I have a Sofia as well, very light skin and light brown hair, she loves Disneyland and all the princesses, what is so wrong with them living the magic. it is only us, as adults who read too much into it!!!