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Disney Junior’s Ariel





Caleb Gottry

TV Series Review

Disney Junior’s Ariel lets kids return to that beloved world under the sea to learn life lessons alongside a certain 8-year-old redheaded princess and her three best friends.

She’s several years younger than you remember in Disney’s classic 1989 film The Little Mermaid. The TV show, of course, is quite a bit newer. But not much has changed in characters’ states of mind.

The Jamaican crustacean Sebastian is a worried mess. Ariel is fascinated by the human world (though seemingly perfectly comfortable among the waves in this prequel-esque series). And Flounder is happy-go-lucky but sometimes a little bit slow to understand things.

While Ursula is not evil as of yet (she’s Ariel’s tauntie these days), nor are her eels frightening and malicious, she does still have her magical powers, able to conjure bubbles and change herself into other creatures, much to the delight of the children. She even teaches them some magic tricks in her magic castle (sometimes called an “apothecary”).

Like the 2023 live-action adaptation, Ariel, her father, and her sisters are Black. Ursula is a soulful Black woman reminiscent of Disney’s Mama Odie (The Princess and the Frog). One of Ariel’s best friends is Latina. Airel gives us an incredibly diverse realm under the sea.

But there doesn’t seem to be any gender-identity issues in the show. In fact, Ariel’s relationship with her three best friends, Flounder, Lucia, and Fernie, is a wonderful example of mixed and same-gender friendships.

Each 26-minute episode is split into two segments, which teach kids lessons about patience, responsibility and forgiveness.

Overall, life is still the bubbles under the sea and parents don’t have to worry about this fintastically family-friendly first season of Disney Junior’s Ariel.

(Editor’s Note: Plugged In is rarely able to watch every episode of a given series for review. As such, there’s always a chance that you might see a problem that we didn’t. If you notice content that you feel should be included in our review, send us an email at [email protected], or contact us via Facebook or Instagram, and be sure to let us know the episode number, title and season so that we can check it out.)

Episode Reviews

June 27, 2024–S1, E1: “Atlantica Day/A Winner’s Spirit”

In the first segment, Sebastian tasks Ariel with writing a song for a big celebration in Atlantica. Her goal is to find the one most special thing about Atlantica. The only problem is everybody seems to have a different idea of what that is.

Eventually, Ariel gives up, thinking that there is no one most special thing to write a song about. But just as Sebastian is about to break the news to the audience, Ariel realizes that the best part of Atlantica is its diversity (said in the show as “everyone’s differences”).

In the second segment, Flounder wants to compete in a swimming race, but Ariel thinks her fish friend isn’t ready. Despite Ariel’s crazy training, Flounder insists the race is just for fun and is discouraged when Ariel doesn’t see it that way.

At the end, Ariel realizes that she hurt her friend’s feelings and confidence, and she apologizes, leaving Flounder to just race for fun.

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Caleb Gottry

Caleb Gottry is the Plugged In intern for Summer 2024. Caleb studies journalism with a minor in music at Texas Christian University, where he will be a junior in the fall. He loves playing with words, listening to and making music, and spending any spare time with friends or family.

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