‘The Proud Family’ tackles autism

The second season of “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” dropped on Disney+ on Feb. 1. This reboot of the hit 2000s show “The Proud Family” has continued to garner a mass audience.

The show has never shied away from exploring heavy topics, even back in its original run. Racism, bullying and religion were prominent social topics discussed.

One episode in particular surprised many viewers. A clip from a season two episode went viral this week, depicting a doctor discussing test results with the family after one of the twins, Benjamin or “BeBe,” is evaluated for autism. 

The clip showcases the reactions of the parents — both calm and defensive. Trudy has more questions, but is relatively accepting of this. Oscar retaliates in an angry fashion, which is an unfortunately common response. One response to the episode says “the way they went about it has me emotional. Beautiful job. I also love the fact that they didn’t sugarcoat Oscar’s reaction. Because it is natural.”

The episode portrayed a realistic and common response to something like this in a manner that was authentic. Reactions from fans clearly show how needed and appreciated this episode was, especially from the community itself. 

This episode particularly showed care with the topic. Based on social media reactions, it was handled in a way that approaches the subject with respect, not in a demonizing way.

With Disney’s previous attempt (and failure) to discuss autism, it was surprising to many fans that the company not only tackled it again, but tackled it well. An episode of  “Girls Meets World” tried to discuss autism, but did it in an offensive manner that gravely upset the autistic community.

The “Proud Family” episode was not only special for the audience, but for the voice actors, as well. Seven year-old Aiden Dodson does the voice acting for the character. Not only does he play a character on the autism spectrum, he is autistic himself.

Having an autistic character being portrayed by an autistic actor is something very special, especially with controversies such as Sia’s “Music” film from 2021. Let autistic actors play autistic characters. These authentic performances are what we need in the media, not another Sia situation.

Holly Robinson Peete is the voice of the teacher in this episode. Peete has been open about her experiences as a mother of an autistic child, which makes this episode so much more impactful. People that are living these experiences are lending their voices to a show in order to tell a story that’s really needed in the media. 

This is something that is barely seen, if at all seen, in cartoons. A moment like this shows that some studios are actually making an effort to diversify their media. They don’t shy away from the topic and learn from their mistakes from previous attempts. 

This reboot has taken huge strides towards continuing the original show’s track record of diversity and tackling a variety of social issues.