How “Sofia the First” Revolutionized Preschool Animation
By: Steve Zec
Today marks the end of an era, as Sofia the First will end its over five year run on Disney Junior. Sofia the First is a show that showed preschool programs can be entertaining for people of all ages.
We have had animated shows for kids like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Legend of Korra, Steven Universe, and Star vs the Forces of Evil, that have stuff for kids, teenagers, and adults alike, but animated shows made for an even younger audience like preschoolers often lack that. Don’t get me wrong they are not bad shows, at least some of them aren’t. But clearly adults if not watching with their kids, are not going to find shows like Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, or Mickey’s Playhouse as entertaining as they would an Avatar: The Last Airbender-type of show. And that is okay.
Sofia the First was different. It didn’t talk down to its audience, it didn’t stop to break the fourth wall and slow the momentum of whatever story they were trying to tell. No, Sofia the First told its story at the same pace as a show for teenagers or young adults would. Sure they would stop for a musical number every episode, but that is okay, because the songs are catchy, and remember this is Disney: one thing they know how to do is make catchy songs.
You see character growth throughout the series. For example in the early seasons, Sofia’s amulet let her talk to classic Disney Princesses who gave her advice, however in a later season the amulet took Sofia to other kingdoms with princesses that needed her advice.
Two characters that grew the most are Sofia’s step-sister Amber and the royal sorcerer Cedric. Amber was a self-centered, vain, and superficial person in the beginning, but she grew into a selfless person who earned the right to be the next queen of the kingdom. You see examples of that in the episode “A Royal Wedding”. Cedric was originally an antagonist, someone plotting to take over the kingdom, but by the end of the series, he was one of Sofia’s trusted allies and had a close relationship with her. Cedric is an example of Sofia’s ability to melt anyone’s heart.
The show did have its faults. In my opinion, for example, I didn’t care much for Sofia’s pet rabbit Clover. Episodes centered on him didn’t land for me, but that is just my personal taste. And there are limitations to being a show aimed for a much younger audience, so there is not much violence or displays of romantic affection.
You could do much worse for a half hour than Sofia the First. Seriously, if you love Disney and especially Disney princesses, give this show a chance.
Thank you Sofia the First for a wonderful five years and changing the landscape of preschool television for a long time.