I was dubious—nay, horrified—when I first heard of Disney’s new variation on the Winnie the Pooh story a couple of years ago. The show My Friends Tigger and Pooh would feature not the beloved Christopher Robin, but a newly created little girl, “Darby.” Darby, Pooh, and their friends would form a group called the “Super Sleuths” and solve mysteries. It wouldn’t be a bad premise for a kids’ show in general, but it seemed like heresy when applied to the sacred Pooh.
We happened to catch an episode here at the House of Mombian the other day, however, and wow, was I surprised. Little Darby just might be the tomboyest character to grace kids’ television since Peppermint Patty. With bobbed red hair and freckles like her predecessor, Darby also sports:
- A baseball cap
- Cargo pants
- A lavender tank top (over a t-shirt)
- Sensible brown shoes
- Nothing pink (Well, OK, she sometimes busts out a hot pink scooter and helmet, but I’d like to think that’s just until she saves up enough for a Harley. Not to mention that Piglet, who uses male pronouns, seems very comfortable wearing hot pink himself.)
Disney might not have created Darby with the intent of making her a baby dyke, but she sure displays many of the signs. (I know, I know, stereotypes. But tell me that wardrobe combination wouldn’t ping your gaydar.)
Now, I like the show well enough, but it doesn’t blow my socks off. It’s less shrill than Dora the Explorer or Bob the Builder, and teaches nice lessons about problem-solving and friendship, but doesn’t display the brilliance of PBS’ Sesame Street, Between the Lions, or even Jakers!, which I like a lot from a storytelling perspective (and did even before I knew the lead character was voiced by out actor Maile Flanagan). Still, kudos to Disney for creating a female character who could be a role model for a young girl figuring out that her identity tended toward the less-than princess-y.
Now if only someone would do a mashup in which she and Peppermint Patty start a softball team . . . .