‘Ever After High’: A Feminist Mom’s Dream? Close Enough


If it weren’t for the tagline, I wouldn’t have given Ever After High a second glance — or let my daughter give it one. But when the Netflix series popped up atop my queue with the words “Are you a rebel or a royal?” I was intrigued.

Telling little girls they can rebel? Not bad, Netflix, not bad.

Upon a little more investigation, I found the show that’s now earned pride of place streaming on Netflix started out as a series of webisodes supported by Mattel, makers of the dolls that bear the same name (fair warning, letting your daughter get hooked on Ever After High opens you up to requests for merchandise). Now it’s found a permanent home, allowing the stories of the progeny of fairy tale characters to develop. So far, so good.

But what would little girls get out of it? I decided to find out. With some help from Netflix, which provided party supplies, I invited some little girls (all aged 9) into my living room for an Ever After High viewing party … to find out if the show awakens the rebel spirit the show’s tagline so proudly promotes.

EverAfter4Watching it with them, I was pleasantly surprised. The series has managed to present more than a few of the values woefully lacking in much of children’s entertainment, particularly that directed at young girls.

Main characters Raven Queen and Apple White could easily have been cast as competition, in keeping with hundreds of years of pitting women against one another. But they weren’t. Instead the teenage girls with thoroughly different pasts and personalities are … wait for it … friends. What’s this? We’re telling our daughters (and heck, our sons if they watch it) that it’s possible for girls to just plain get along with one another?

(If only the girls are always at each others’ throats trope would die off in films and TV, perhaps we could convince real girls to be a little nicer to one another. Hey, a mother can dream.)

Ever After High turns the destiny theme popular in typical princess fare on its head as well, with Raven Queen heading up a high school group called the Rebels, kids whose main storyline is an attempt to be better than past generations (Raven is the daughter of the Evil Queen from Snow White, but she’s bucking her heritage by being anything but evil). Where destiny in traditional fairy tales is used to trap women, in Ever After High, it’s used to empower them.EverAfter3

Not all is perfect — the body shapes of the characters all fit one theme: impossible for any real human to attain, a true drawback to the show that can’t be ignored. The dolls are similarly uncomfortable to look at; although I have to the mother of one of my daughter’s closest friends that it’s nice to get dolls that are actually wearing clothing — and clothing that covers the toy’s skin.

As for the girls, the question of the hour was what they took away from it.

A lot was made of the dolls and the ability to style their hair. What can I say? They’re 9.

But when asked what they like most about the show, I heard a lot about being who you want to be. Asked if they’d rather be a royal or a rebel, no one had to take a moment to think. “Rebel,” was the answer.

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Disclaimer: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team, I was provided with a box of party supplies for this viewing party and a gift card to purchase food. I was not otherwise compensated, and all opinions expressed are my own.











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