Happy Pride Month! Check out these animated TV series with LGBTQ+ representation for the kiddos to watch.
We like to moan about TV a lot because it’s increasingly hard to monitor our kids’ screen time… and also because we’re tired of watching kid cartoons all day (no more baby shark, please!). Somedays though, we’re happy to let things slide because there’s a great cartoon to watch. Whether it’s in animated or live-action form, it’s comforting for us to know that our kids get to see a representation of themselves on TV. Likewise, LGBTQ+ representation in children’s TV shows has been gaining popularity. Here are some of the best animated TV series that we love, and hopefully your kids will, too!
1. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
Does anyone remember this kick-ass female superheroine from the ‘80s? The older generation (ahem, us) will have watched She-Ra free Etheria from the Evil Horde on our screens when it came out in 1985. If you’re a fan – or even if you aren’t – you’ll want to watch the Netflix reboot with your kids.
This reboot of an oldie-but-goodie animated TV series spans five seasons with each episode lasting slightly less than 30 minutes, and features a ton of new and old characters you know and love from before. Much like real-life, LGBTQ+ characters are introduced just like any other straight character on the show. Plus, the cartoon does a great job of depicting characters with anxiety, autism and other body shapes without fuss, too.
And, despite being a cartoon, you’ll notice that most characters have well-developed arcs, personalities and growth throughout the seasons. As the kids say, we stan!
2. Steven Universe
Follow Steven and the Crystal Gems, the titular character’s adopted family of female warrior aliens as they try to save the world using powers from his bellybutton. All in the day’s work, as they head on fun adventures, too. And even though Steven isn’t as powerful as the Crystal Gems, somehow he still manages to find a way to save the day. Pretty normal stuff!
But hold the phone – that’s not why our kids love this cartoon. Not only is this Cartoon Network’s first animated TV series created by a woman, but it also picked up a GLAAD award in 2019 for its portrayal of gender identity and sexuality. And it handles homophobia, anxiety and domestic violence in a kid-friendly and approachable way for children.
3. Adventure Time
Follow along with 12-year-old Finn and his magical dog, Jake, as they roam the Land of Ooo on adventures, doing good and fighting evil. Since this American animated series premiered in 2010, Adventure Time has been lauded as a progressive cartoon show not only loved by kids but by adults, too.
Over the course of the series, we get to explore and learn more about these characters that make the cartoon so entertaining to watch, and fall in love with storylines that pay off in the last few seasons of the show. Just like the relationship between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen. It’s gratifying to see a positive relationship between two female characters, even if it means having to watch their journey for 10 seasons!
You might recognise this bespectacled aardvark that once graced your TV screens as a kid. The educational cartoon series is known for highlighting important issues that families may face and for encouraging kids to read. Just two of the many great reasons to watch this show with your kids! And last year, this beloved animated TV series opened its 22nd season by featuring the same-sex relationship and wedding of Mr Ratburn, Arthur’s third-grade teacher. A historic moment for our kids to see positive representation on our screens!
5. The Legend of Korra
We could go into detail why Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the best kids’ TV show of all time, and we’re so glad that all three seasons are now on Netflix for us to watch all over again. And though sequels generally have a bad rep for being less entertaining than the original, don’t discount its follow-up sequel! The Legend of Korra has also been highly praised by fans, too, for pushing the envelope on various fronts – from sexism to ethics – and is one of the first cartoon series for featuring a queer lead.
And though it wasn’t explicitly stated that the characters were queer until the end of the series, the four-season animated TV series is still definitely worth a watch. We highly recommend it!
6. Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling
Okay, we’re going to have to cheat a little. Though it’s not a TV series, this classic ‘90s cartoon came back on our airwaves with a sucker punch as a short animated movie. And boy, it felt good when it graced our TV screens again. But instead of creating metaphors or subverting LGBTQ+ experiences like many cartoons before, it now proudly features a loveable transgender character – a true look into modern life.
7. SpongeBob Squarepants
— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) June 13, 2020
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob Squarepants! In celebration of Pride Month, Nickelodeon shared a tweet featuring several characters that included this lovable sponge. And though they didn’t explicitly state if SpongeBob was an ally or a member of the LGBTQ+ community, many who have theorised the character’s asexuality were more than elated to have him join the community. Us, too!
8. Sesame Street
Though it’s not an animated TV series, Sesame Street, the lovable PBS mainstay of our childhood has been running for years and is still a big hit with the kids even to this day. And we’re glad for it! The kids’ program is a terrific way for the little ones to learn values, numbers, the alphabet and more. Though it has been refuted by showrunners, we’ve always had an inkling that Bert and Ernie might be gay. We can sure dream about it, though!
Top image: Shutterstock