By Kayla Thompson, Communities of Color Junior Associate GLAAD.org | February 25, 2022
Penny and her family are back and prouder than ever as the new revival of Disney’s The Proud Family premiered publicly Wednesday, February 23, 17 years after the original hit series went off air.
The Proud Family was created by Bruce W. Smith and premiered in 2002, with the show’s run spanning two seasons and ending in 2005. The show was groundbreaking as it focused on an entirely black family, unapologetically centering black culture and sharing the varied stories and personalities of an entire host of black characters. It’s representation of black family, social, and public life was unparalleled, and it contained some of the only characters that black entertainment lovers and black children could relate to and see themselves reflected in at the time.
The return of the comedic storylines following fan-favorites Penny, Oscar, Suga Mama and other series regulars has therefore been warmly and eagerly welcomed. As the Proud family comes back even louder and prouder than ever before, the series revival also includes a number of loud and proud LGBTQ characters.
Series regular Michael Collins is revisioned in The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder. Voiced by EJ Johnson, the first two episodes of the revival portray Michael as more openly expressive in his identity through trendsetting fashion choices, hairstyles and colors, designing clothes for Penny, and offering beauty advice and assistance to his friends.
The pilot episodes of the reboot also advance the series’ overall representation of LGBTQ characters and identities as viewers are briefly introduced to new character Barry Leibovitz-Jenkins voiced by Zachary Quinto. In later episodes the series is also set to introduce Randall Leibovitz-Jenkins, another LGBTQ charcter and Barry’s husband, voiced by LGBTQ icon Billy Porter.
Having recurring queer characters, and especially recurring black queer characters, in such a widely loved show is a ramifying achievement for accelerating the acceptance of LGBTQ people and LGBTQ people of color everywhere.
In addition to a number of recurring LGBTQ characters, Bretman Rock guest stars as Makeup Boy in the all-new series’ second episode “Bad Influence(r).” While Penny Proud initially “cancels” the makeup artist and social media guru with some unsavory words, Penny and Makeup Boy seem to reconcile later in the episode.
The revival is also projected to host a series of other queer guests star, including Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Lena Waithe, and Jane Lynch.
The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder can be streamed in all of it’s loud and proud glory on Disney+.