In college, kid shows might seem like a thing of the past, but they don’t have to be. Some of the best content for stressed college students to watch is children’s shows. From “She-Ra” to “Steven Universe,” kids shows offer students an escape into a seemingly simpler time with bright animations and wholesome stories that offer comfort against the real, harsher world. Children’s shows are also faster paced, making it easy to watch in-between classes or during study breaks.
These shows can portray larger adult issues in terms children can understand, which allows even adults to learn and grow. “The Dragon Prince” accomplishes all of these with the backdrop of a great fantastical world filled with magic, dragons and elves. This Netflix original series offers a compelling quest story, lovable diverse characters, some surprisingly adult jokes and, of course, dragons.
From the minds of Aaron Ehasz, former writer for “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “Futurama,” and Justin Richmond, “The Dragon Prince” offers a whole new world for children and adults alike to escape to and explore.
In the magical land of Xadia, two races are on the verge of war. It began when a human mage discovered a seventh source of magic. Unlike the other six elemental sources, this dark magic came from killing magical creatures, and its use caused the elves to drive the humans from their lands. Xadia was then divided in two, with the dragon king guarding the border between.
But the humans ultimately killed Thunder, King of the Dragons, and his egg. The show begins with Moonshadow elves seeking vengeance on one of the human kings for the death of the dragon and his egg. Unknown to the elves, and most of the human kingdoms, the egg survived. The series follows two human princes and a Moonshadow elf as they embark on a quest to bring the egg home. It’s the only way to stop the coming war between their people.
That is just the beginning.
“The Dragon Prince” manages to include an array of diverse characters in a way that doesn’t feel like executives were ticking off boxes.
In the first few episodes, the king of Katolis, one of the two human kings, must figure out how to survive the threat on his life from assassin Moonshadow elves. He is a proud, wise king who would gladly give his life for his kingdom and his people. He cares deeply for his son and loves his stepson like his own. King Harrow is a great king and one who brings representation into the series.
The character is black; adorned with dreadlocks and his crown, he rules his kingdom well while simultaneously showcasing diversity. Even though his time on screen is short, his impact lives throughout the story. His wisdom and guidance lead the main characters through their quest. His warm heart continues through their actions. The deceased king’s very presence remains through flashbacks and through his children.
King Harrow’s biological son, Ezran, is one of the main characters. The amicable prince has his mother’s sweet tooth for jelly tarts and a deep understanding of animals, which includes his pet glow-toad. The clever boy journeys to keep his kingdom from war, but also because returning the egg is the right thing to do.
Ezran is special for many reasons, but perhaps one of the most interesting for an adult audience is that he is mixed race. It is never blatantly stated and it doesn’t need to be. Neither his race nor his father’s is used as a plot point. The only racism on screen takes place between elves and humans.
The divide between the two races allows for bigger issues to be touched on, like how Ezran and his half-brother believe some myths about their Moonshadow elf companion. The more they learn about her and her culture, the more they realize not everything they were taught about elves holds true. It hits on the idea of questioning the facts once taught by loved ones.
One of the most elf-hating people in the princes’ lives is their aunt. As a general protecting the border between worlds, their Aunt Amaya has seen many battles with Sunfire elves, so her distrust and dislike is understandable. She is a very impressive battle master and sword master. She is not only an impressive representation of women as strong fighters, but she is also deaf.
Her sign language interpreter, Gren, often accompanies her and when he is not with her, she is not held back by her lack of hearing. In fact, in one battle it was an advantage. While checking on a camp that was late giving a signal, a soldier was able to warn her and her alone of the danger that lurked from the Sunfire elves. Her lack of hearing is never addressed and never a plot point.
“The Dragon Prince” handles diversity by simply having it exist on the screen. The subtle inclusion normalizes the existence of such characters. For example, an episode featured two queens that ruled together. The inclusion of a lesbian couple and as wise, kind rulers no less, will take away some of the societal stigma around the LGBTQ+ community. It is the same seeing a black man in power or a deaf female general.
This gives kids and even adults the chance to know that if they fall under any of those groups that they are capable of great things. It also allows others to see their capability and see that it really doesn’t matter the color of someone’s skin or whether or not they can hear. If adults don’t make a big deal about a person’s sexuality then children won’t either, and the world can evolve beyond it.
There are more characters of color throughout “The Dragon Prince” and the creators have confirmed that there are more unconfirmed LGBT+ characters that do not suffer from the “bury your gays” trope. The creators are taking those reveals slower because they want their well-rounded characters to drive the story. That natural reveal will lend itself to their well-handled diversity.
“The Dragon Prince,” with messages like a three-legged wolf is just as strong as a regular wolf, offers the wholesome content that stressed college students could benefit from while offering numerous humorous, complex characters. The diversity of the characters is refreshing because there is depth beyond just their labels. The show is a nice change and relaxing escape.
But don’t just take my word for it. “Book One: Moon” and “Book Two: Sky” of “The Dragon Prince” is available on Netflix.