Episode 4 ofThe Proud Family: Louder and Prouder tackles the issue of prejudice as the series officially introduces the adoptive fathers of Maya and KG.
One of the things that the minds behind The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder revival series were most excited about was how much things have changed since the original series aired from 2001 to 2005. As Ralph Farquhar, who co-created Louder and Prouder with The Proud Family creator Bruce W. Smith, said at the show’s TCA panel, the passage of time allows the revival to tackle tougher subjects without having to do any tiptoeing, as the original show had to.
Episode 4 of The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder represents the revival’s first crack at tackling a more serious subject. While Barry Leibowitz-Jenkins (Zachary Quinto) had already been introduced in Episode 1 as one of the adoptive fathers of Maya (Keke Palmer) and KG (Artist “A Boogie” Dubose), Episode 4 completes the family by introducing Randall Leibowitz-Jenkins (Billy Porter), Barry’s husband and adoptive father to Maya and KG. “Father Figures” centers on the reaction of not only series protagonist Penny Proud (Kyla Pratt), but also those of her friends and their families, to the Leibowitz-Jenkinses. Elsewhere, Penny’s dad Oscar (Tommy Davidson) is seeking a loan for a new theme park, “Snackland”.
Much like Episode 3, “Father Figures” is a well-crafted story from start to finish. Writer Ralph Farquhar takes the main lesson of Episode 4 and ties it to both the main plot and subplot with relative ease. In an ironic twist, the plots of both episodes are focused on Oscar and Penny. There’s a nice little subversion as well, as Penny is the only person in the Episode who doesn’t shun Maya and KG when the residents of Wizardville learn the siblings have two fathers. Penny isn’t the one learning the lesson in Episode 4, as she says that her father has already taught her to treat people the way she would want to be treated.
Instead, it is Oscar and the other characters who have to learn throughout Episode 4 to be more accepting of the Leibowitz-Jenkins family. As Oscar attempts to secure his loan for Snackland, he encounters Randall, a banker, and reacts with unease when Barry interrupts their meeting and the couple kiss. Oscar’s reaction and journey throughout this episode to a place of acceptance/friendship of and with Randall and Barry is handled well. It’s one that shows even parents can forget to heed the lessons that they pass on to their children from time to time. Seeing Penny literally on a soapbox as she teaches her friends about acceptance is both hilarious and powerful. It allows kids to see that they don’t have to follow the lead of everyone else, and there’s nothing wrong with others that are “different” or being friends with them. Treating others the way that you would want to be treated is a moral that can sometimes be lost on others these days and those that are both young and old should be taking this message to heart and not be so quick to judge.
Having Penny be the well-intentioned voice of reason is a nice change of pace from the first 3 episodes of The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, and one can only hope that we’ll get a few more moments like that as the series moves forward. The episode handles the topic of Maya and KG having two adoptive fathers very well, looking at it from not only the angles of the children, but also their parents. The concept of children having LGBTIQA+ parents is something that may be different, but they are just a normal family at the end of the day, one that just happens to differ slightly from what society would consider “normal”. There’s nothing wrong with that, and members of the LGBTIQA+ community are people at the end of the day, and we should treat them like we would want to be treated. That lesson applies not only to LGBTIQA+ people, but also to humans in general, and it’s one that kids and adults can sometimes forget. The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder Episode 4 provides a thoughtful reminder of this very simple idea.
By subverting expectations a bit, Episode 4 of The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder handles the issue of prejudice in an effective way that everyone, no matter how young or old, can learn from. The best part is, despite having a literal soapbox moment, it never feels like the episode is talking down to its audience. That is what the original Proud Family show did best, teach audiences, no matter their age, an insightful lesson without ever seeming too preachy. “Father Figures” continues the recent run of great episodes of Louder and Prouder and even ends on what I think is a pretty interesting set up for a future episode.
The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder ‘s Episode 4 is now available to watch on Disney Plus.