I hate Sofia the First. HATE!!!! So, this is not going to be an impartial and fair review. This is going to be more of a rant. I’m not trying to change your mind if you like the show. This is the internet, people…I’m just preaching to the choir. So, if you like the show, just go ahead and ignore this post. (Or tell me why I’m an asshole. Your choice.) But if you hate Sofia and you’re not quite sure why or you’re just looking for more reasons to go on hating it, then keep reading (and let me know what I forgot)!
Sofia the First is, in some ways, worse than the benchmark for all shitty children’s television. That’s right, I’m talking about Caillou. Whaaaaa!!!???!!! Blasphemy!!!! How is that even possible? Because I was able to get my kids off Caillou, but Sofia is ingrained in my daily existence. “Sofia” is one of my 19 month old’s first words. True story, bro. Getting my daughter to stop watching Caillou was relatively easy. It’s a show about a kid, his sister, and his family. There are lots of shows like that. The Berenstain Bears, Doc McStuffins, Angelina Ballerina, Arthur, and Peppa Pig are a few shows that feature – sometimes animal, sometimes human – children with a sibling and their parents. Pulling Penny away from Caillou wasn’t too tough. What’s he got going for him? He’s a whiny bald-headed Canadian with frumpy parents and lazy artists (color the whole scene, for Christ’s sake!).
As utterly familiar as it is, Sofia the First is, in a sense, “unique.” She is a Disney Princess that is roughly the same age as the children the show is geared towards (instead of the teenage princesses featured in the movies). That alone makes it stand out from the pack. But then Disney threw in every other magical mystical creature and trope from all the kids’ favorite movies and TV shows. I remember the commercial for the TV movie that introduced Sofia. It was something like…Hey kids! Do you like fairies, flying horses, and mermaids? Sofia’s got ’em! How about talking animals, trolls, and sorcerers? Yep, them too! But wait, if you tune in long enough, you’ll see unnecessary cameos from other Disney princesses! Why not? We own the rights! Not convinced yet? Well we were saving the best for last. That’s right kiddies, Sofia the First’s manservant is voiced by none other than Project Runway’s slave-driver-in-residence,Tim Gunn! We made it work, people!
The obvious throw-everything-at-the-wall marketing strategy made sense. Some of the major plot points just don’t. I’m talking specifically about the goddamned Amulet of Avalor. King Roland didn’t want to give this allegedly powerful charm to his natural daughter, but he gave it to Sofia like three days after she became his stepdaughter. Okay, well that’s kind of screwed up. But the Amulet is bullshit, anyway. There have been 22 episodes plus the movie, and the stupid necklace FINALLY gave Sofia a second power. Now, she can talk to super cute woodland rodents and she can grow a mermaid tail & swim with the fish. (It was probably an unreasonable hope that Cedric the Sorcerer would tie a cement brick around her new mermaid tail and make her “sleep with the fishes.”)
For some reason, Cedric is convinced that if he could get his hands on the Amulet he could take over the kingdom of Enchancia. He himself refers to these inevitably failed attempts as “evil schemes.” A villain recognizing himself as such isn’t that out of the ordinary for Disney. But he is the one who informed Sofia that the Amulet rewards good behavior and punishes bad. I’m guessing the all-knowing Amulet would recognize stealing as bad and would punish him. The thing is, the dude knows magic! He should focus on honing his skills, forget a necklace that allows a little goody-two-shoes to chat with chipmunks and not much else, and depose Roland with some truly potent sorcery! If I were his evil adviser, that’s the evil advice I’d give.
All of this might be forgivable if Sofia weren’t SO ANNOYING. I HATE HATE HATE HER!!! Why for the love of all that is good and holy can she not pronounce Cedric’s name correctly? We know he’s the bad guy, he knows he’s the bad guy, but she doesn’t know he’s the bad guy! (Like the rest of the royal family, she’s not particularly astute.) He has told her a thousand times, it’s pronounced “Sed-rick. Sed-rick!” Yet she continues to call him Mr. SEEEEEE-drick. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be an endearing affectation, but, to me, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. It makes me want to bash her little 3D skull in. (Side note: I hate the animation style. King Roland’s face, in particular, is just weird looking. Though they least they have one up on Caillou, since the entire picture is colored in.)Sofia is just sooooo adorable. And sweet and perfect. She’d just be “sooooo gwateful faw yaw help. Pwetty pwease, Mr. SEEEEE-drick.” She doesn’t really talk like that, but she may as well.
Sofia is almost always right about everything, which is just awesome when I’m trying to convince my own five year old that maybe, sometimes she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about. “If you’d only listened, dad,” Sofia admonishes her father in one episode, after she broke a castle rule about exploring troll-filled caves (getting the two of them trapped in the process). I’m not saying she was wrong about making friends with her different looking neighbors. It just bugs me that she’s always right! She’s a kid. She’s still supposed to be learning things from her parents and teachers, but how can she when she knows everything already!?!
Not only is she smarter than her father, she’s ahead of her time in the fight for equality! By showing that girls can be better than boys, Sofia convinced the kingdom that princesses should be allowed to compete in the flying derby. I hated this lesson. If she didn’t win – despite being a novice, riding the slowest horse, and having to overcome the artificial obstacles from a cheating competitor – I doubt girls would ever be allowed to race flying horses in Enchancia! So, if girls want a chance to play with the boys, they have to prove they’re not just as good but better? No matter, long after you forget the idiotic lesson of the episode, the annoyingly catchy tune about gender stereotypes will stay with you…and your impressionable child. In little girl voices “we do princess things” with the boys confirming in voices of rugged, yet in-tune, lumber jacks, “we do princely things!”
One of the few times I remember Sofia being in the wrong – albeit briefly – was when she tried to force her friends to act like princesses, instead of themselves, at a slumber party. Of course, this was quickly resolved when Sofia’s equally know-it-all mom pointed out that it was Sofia who wasn’t “acting like a princess.” Predictably, the actual princesses realized they had more fun acting like village girls than being prim and proper prisses. In the end Sofia was really smug about being right, and allowed the princesses to slum it with her friends. Again the thing that sticks out in the episode is the – as always – annoyingly catchy song “Everybody’s Gotta Fit In,” that teaches children the only way to be accepted is to be just like everyone else. If the episodes are going to have a moral, maybe the good folks at Disney should make the stupid song about THAT instead of opposite friggin’ thing!
There are other aspects of the show that piss me off, but I think that’ll do. I don’t rant often. It’s kind of exhausting! Fun, though. Who knows what my next target will be…maybe I’ll branch out and take on some major socio-political issues. Or maybe I’ll just tell you why the eco-system of the Bubble Guppies makes no god damned sense!