THE QUEER LEGACY OF THE OWL HOUSE

Originally published on Animation for Adults

Shain Slepian

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I want to state one thing very clearly at the outset: Dana Terrace knew what she was doing.

I’m sure of it. Though it is also undoubtable that The Owl House is a series that she has been sincerely passionate about since 2016, this dedication was not distinct from the goal of putting LGBT characters at the forefront of a story made for the next generation. Between the consistently stylish outfits of the characters, hard-hitting themes of isolation and ostracization, and the gender-nonconforming vibes of series protagonist Luz Noceda (Sarah-Nicole Robles), the queer animation junkies of the world immediately had their eyes on this series.

But the queerness of the show goes a lot deeper than surface-level choices like this, and indeed, even beyond its core romantic relationships. The politics, ideas, and plot of The Owl House portray a love for all that is queer. At its core, “queer” refers to the way one’s desires (their loves, identities, expressions, etc.) are marked as indecent and demonized by the power majority. The Owl House has a deep and protective love for those of us who want something different from our lives than what we have been told to want.

Creator Dana Terrace found her way to Disney Channel when Alex Hirsch (creator of Gravity Falls and voice of King on The Owl House) found her art blog online and sought her out to be a storyboarder on his own show. It’s hard not to imagine how Terrace’s influence affected the cultural destiny of Gravity Falls: the show made history with its portrayal of a gay couple, and though the channel forced the creator to make this reveal as subtle as possible, fans noticed.

It seems all-too-natural that history would be made again on her own show, which lays claim to the first gay kiss on any Disney property. It’s also natural that this would signal the very abrupt and outrageous cancellation of the show. Terrace clearly fought hard for the series, eventually gaining a third season of three, one-hour specials. I can’t help but read the explicit pride of this third season, which concluded on April 8th, as a bit of a spiteful jab at the priggish channel that ended her story too soon. But in the end, just the colors of the bisexual and nonbinary flags…

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Shain Slepian

Shain is a screenwriter and screenplay editor. For more content, follow their blog and check out their YouTube channel, TimeCapsule. shainslepian.com/