Stop me if you've heard this before: a 25-year-old graduate student decompresses after a long day/week/month/year of classes, meetings, rehearsals, and adulting brick-a-brack by watching cartoons aimed at young audiences. Nothing? Just me? Okay.
Anywho, one of the most recent shows that I've been catching up on is Disney's newest show, Elena of Avalor. In a similar, aged-up vein to their other princess-centric show Sofia the First, EoA chronicles the life and times of Latina princess Elena Castillo Flores of Avalor and her family. Thankfully, she is one of many fantastic female characters residing and thriving in current media; she also happens to be one of the best. How so? Let's find out.
The show opens each episode with the theme song, which, through a flurry of mariachi, merengue, pop, and salsa-inspired instrumentals and vocals, is immured with the richness of Latin culture. As well it should. Though a fictional country, the kingdom of Avalor is rich in influence from Latin mythology, music, culture, food, architecture, and traditions. Elena herself is Disney's first Latina princess, and is voiced by Dominican-American actress Aimee Carrero. Unlike far too many Latino/Latina characters nowadays, Elena, as well as her family, isn't solely defined by her heritage; it exists as a part of who she is. She is also so much more.
The premise of any successful show centers on an engaging, relatable protagonist that can carry multiple storylines and episodes. Luckily, Elena is one such heroine. Over the course of the show thus far, Elena is a sympathetic character: she has demonstrated leadership, integrity, honesty, compassion, and bravery in just eight episodes. She takes charge, but can be impulsive. She is a great leader, and isn't afraid to make her voice heard; she also learns to listen to other people's ideas. She is still learning about how to be a proper ruler, and, inevitably, makes mistakes; more important, she learns from them, and the audience sees it happen.
3) Devotion to Family
As of now, Princess Elena's stories do not center around love interests or trying to find a king to settle down with. She's too busy for romance. She is also greatly devoted to her family; based on the first episode's preamble, no one would blame her.
*Spoilers Ahead* One day, an evil sorceress named Shuriki attacked the kingdom of Avalor and then killed Elena's parents. Elena then courageously faced off against Shuriki in order to protect her sister Isabel and her grandparents; in the process, however, she is trapped inside a jewel called the Amulet of Avalor for forty-one years. Princess Sofia the First (y'all knew she was coming back) managed to free Elena from the Amulet so she can save her family (and does!). The series' events take place in the aftermath of this adventure. *End Spoilers*
After dealing with such an ordeal like the aformentioned adventure, who wouldn't be devoted to their family? Elena certainly is. In this preamble, the audience becomes aware of Elena's bravery, ingenuity, and self-sacrifice for the sake of her loved ones. Now that's love.
If you want a way to celebrate the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, go watch this amazing show. As of today, eight episodes have aired on the Disney Channel (seriously I've just finished watching the newest episode; how do you think I got the inspiration to write this article?), and are out for anyone's binge-watching enjoyment online and on select on-demand services. Check it out! You'll be glad you did.