Luna on “The Loud House” Sends a Love Letter to a Girl
By: F. Alexander Bonilla-Chacon
On Thursday, June 15, an episode of Nickelodeon’s The Loud House called “L is for Love” premiered. The synopsis is rather benign, as most episodes of this family-friendly show are: “A love letter addressed to ‘L’ shows up at the house, and the family has to figure out who the letter in question is for.” While the main plot of the story can be left unexplained in case you want to watch the full episode, a plot thread that is intertwined with the story is that Luna Loud, one of the older Loud siblings, has a crush on a heretofore unseen character named Sam. Once they figure out who the letter was intended for and witness the unfolding of a romantic story, Luna feels more confident in expressing her crush to Sam. The ending of the episode proceeds as so:
Yeah, Sam’s a girl, and Luna’s a girl. So, here we have one of the youngest animated depictions of same-sex romantic feelings. According to a bio posted by Nickelodeon, Luna is 15 years old on the show. Usually, if a gay relationship is portrayed in a children’s property, it’s either relegated to the background or a characteristic of a recurring character. For example, in The Loud House, there is already an adult gay couple, Harold and Howard McBride, that have appeared in four episodes so far in the two-season show. A similar kid-oriented program, Clarence on Cartoon Network, also has a pair of lesbian parents that appear infrequently.
And when such relationships are visible between main characters, it either has to occur somewhat subtly or use fantasy elements. A case of the former is the famous Korrasami, where The Legend of Korra creators clearly attempt to slowly build-up the nature of the two protagonists’ relationship across the final season of the program, up to the last moment of the final episode where they hold hands and walk off, finally crystallizing it for all. A case of the latter is Steven Universe, where you have an implied romantic relationship between Rose Quartz and Pearl, as well as an out-and-out relationship between Ruby and Sapphire. However, while those four characters can easily be identified as female, at the end of the day they’re not humans, and that is a distinction to be made when talking about LGBT representation in animation.
There will be those who wish that Luna’s attraction to girls would be portrayed in more than a one-off episode, and there might be merit to that argument, especially when you compare it to the work shows like Korra and Steven Universe did to develop their unique relationships. Of course, it’s yet to be seen if the show builds on this Luna-Sam relationship and how it handles that. However, just the idea that we’ve gotten to the point in society where two junior high-age characters of the same gender can feel affection for each other on a television show nominally aimed at a younger audience, and almost 24 hours later there’s no news coverage of the situation… maybe that’s a welcome sign of improvement.
Full disclosure: I don’t watch The Loud House, but if this is Nickelodeon’s highest rating show and their most critically acclaimed, then I think I can say the network might be headed in the right direction, and could indirectly be helping the rest of animation to inch its way down the same path of acceptance.
The next episode of The Loud House is expected to premiere on July 24, 2017 on Nickelodeon.