Disney+ ended Black History Month with their release of “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” on Wednesday Feb. 23, a revamp of the animated series “The Proud Family” that originally aired on Disney Channel from 2001 to 2005.
The Prouds are definitely louder and prouder with more African American culture being portrayed than the last time we saw them. In the first two episodes, we get a glimpse of Penny Proud, reprised with the voice of Kyla Pratt, in a bonnet, which is a fun reference to the song “Wobble” by V.I.C. released in 2008. We are also introduced to two new characters: Maya, a 14-year-old activist voiced by Keke Palmer and her calmer brother KG, voiced by “A Boogie” Dubose, whose catchphrase is “sheesh.”
Something new that many fans couldn’t ignore is the theme song. Though “The Proud Family” theme song lyrics are the same, the singer has changed. Now filling in the shoes of Destiny’s Child and Solange Knowles is 29-year-old singer Joyce Wrice. Many viewers who grew up with the iconic intro do not seem to be a fan of the new remix, but it shows growth within the series representing now 14-year-old Penny Proud.
The show completely acknowledges the topic of growth with episode one, titled “New Kids on the Block.” We see the struggles many Black households face, which is accepting the fact that their Black daughter is growing up. This issue is portrayed with Penny and her father Oscar Proud’s relationship. The episode feels dedicated to those who grew up with the series and, in a way, it’s telling the longtime viewers that Penny Proud is no longer the middle school girl we grew up watching.
Fully aware that change will be hard for their audience, the creators decided to bring back the majority of the original cast, except for Stinky, who makes only a one-time appearance. Trudy and Oscar Proud, Suga Mama and her puppy Puff, Bebe and Cece are just a few examples of the returned characters.
Most long-time fans will be proud that Michael, voiced by EJ Johnson, is now fully himself in the series. Back when the original series aired, there were hints he was a part of LGBTQ+ community, but it was never confirmed. Now, he is established himself as openly gay and gender non-conforming, and much of his expression comes through his fashion sense. He was into fashion back in the original series, but now he embraces his unique style more proudly.
In episode two, titled “Bad Influence(r),” we get back to the series’ origin of tackling social issues. This episode features makeup guru Bretman Rock, voicing Makeup Boy, who takes advantage of the power he has over teens to sell products. This leads to Penny taking on the experiment of becoming a social media influencer by creating her own video that goes viral. She accidentally lets the power get to her head, and it ultimately leads to an episode focusing on the current issue of cancel culture. However, the episode also serves as a lesson for younger viewers, reminding them to not allow social media to define who they are or let it affect their relationships.
“The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” has adjusted to today’s generation while still keeping the heartwarming love of a Black family that caught our attention back in the day. It’s going to be exciting to see Penny Proud and her friends navigate through high school, what other characters will return and topics the team will be discussing in their future episodes.
Celebrity POCs, including Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Brenda Song and Jaden Smith, are expected to guest star in coming episodes, which are released every Wednesday on Disney+.