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Owl House, The

Entry updated 13 June 2022. Tagged: TV.

US animated tv series (2020-current). Disney Television Animation (see Disney on Television). Creator and Executive Producer Dana Terrace. Directors include Bosook Coburn, Aminder Dhaliwal, Stu Livingston, Amelia Lorenz, Stephen Sandoval and Bridget Underwood. Writers include Mikki Crisostomo, Charley Feldman, Madeleine Hernandez, Zach Marcus, Molly Ostertag, John Bailey Owen, Dana Terrace and Rachel Vine. Voice cast includes Alex Hirsch, Wendie Malick, Sarah-Nicole Robles, Isabella Rossellini and Mae Whitman. 40 22-minute episodes and seventeen shorts. Colour.

Worried by Luz Noceda's (Robles) disruptive nature – such as bringing snakes to a school book report – her mother ("I love your creativity, but ...") sends her to Reality Check Summer Camp (motto: "think inside the box"). However, distracted at the bus stop, Luz chases a bag-carrying owl into another Dimension. The owl steals items for Eda the Owl Lady's (Malick) "Human Collectables" market stall; Eda calls herself the "most powerful witch on the Boiling Isles" (which are the continent-sized corpse of a Titan) and explains that all human myths (see Mythology) are leakages from that world ("Griffins, Vampires, Giraffes"). She takes Luz home to The Owl House, introducing her to its annoying guardian Hooty (Hirsch, sounding remarkably like a certain Mouse) and King (Hirsch), self-proclaimed "King of Demons", the bane of whose life is being told how adorable he is. For he is. Luz decides to stay and learn to be a witch.

Luz nonetheless concedes "this is clearly not the PG fantasy world I dreamed about": though some of the population are human-like, others have a just-about child-friendly Hieronymus Bosch appearance. There are many other Horror elements: the Magic School's Principal appears to be wearing a face mask, but this is in fact a small imp whose mouth engulfs the top of his head (see Parasitism and Symbiosis); the Bat Queen (Rossellini) is a giant winged head. Meanwhile, Eda is cursed, turning into a giant owl-like Monster without medication (parallels to serious illness are implied: "If you take the right steps, it's manageable."). Eda – "sassy, surprisingly foxy for her age" – is an outlaw, Emperor Belos – who claims to be instructed by the Titan – has forced witches to join covens, with their Magic limited. The series has two threads: the main one concerns Belos's desire to acquire Eda's access to the human realm. The second is Luz's relationship with fellow pupil Amity Blight (Whitman), initially an antagonist, who develops a crush on Luz: when asked to join her sports team she exclaims, "me, on a team with you, running around with cute uniforms ... sweating!", and flees red-faced. "Well, I guess she's out" responds Luz, obliviously yet accurately.

There is Satire of Fantasy and its tropes: a wizard tells Luz she is a Chosen One, giving her a map, magic staff and an enchanted quest (see Clichés) – but her Perceptions were being manipulated by a puppeteer demon. Luz joins the Magic School, befriends some of its pupils and meets the school's Human Appreciation Society ("Where are your gills?"), though she is briefly banned, to Eda's approval: "Ah! baby's first wanted poster." There are also magic Libraries; Identity Exchanges; magic mimicking social media (cell phones, selfies) and crystal balls behaving like laptops (see Internet).

Season one ends with Eda freed from Emperor Belos's clutches, but without magic – and we learn that Belos, utilizing Technology, is building a portal to our world. The second season reveals he was originally human, a witch hunter who crossed over into the Boiling Isles 400 years ago with his brother. He plans the genocide of all magic users and to return to Earth: both aims will be achieved through the "Day of Unity" – which utilizes the powers of The Collector (Wolff), a trapped child-like being "from the stars" (so possibly an Alien) who has immense powers (he moves a moon with a gesture). At the end of the season Belos is stopped, but the Day of Unity is activated; the capricious Collector is free and Luz – along with some of her new friends, but not Eda and King – is back on Earth. There are many other threads, including Belos having repeatedly Cloned and murdered his brother (each iteration eventually disobeys him like the original, who married a witch). Luz discovers there is still a "Luz" on Earth with her mother – a frightened Shapeshifter who fled Belos's experiments. Luz and Amity become a couple. Amity's mother is an arms dealer, her father a Scientist weaponizing magic; he becomes more sympathetic, unlike his wife – who, on learning of her daughter's relationship with Luz, declares "Oh no! That won't do – we'll find you a new girlfriend, someone who isn't on wanted posters everywhere." She may be an evil arms-dealing snob, but on the Boiling Isles homophobia is not an issue. Eda makes peace with her curse, acquiring a fetching harpy form (she wolf-whistles her reflection) – and King discovers he is the last of the Titans.

The first Disney show with LGBT main characters (the creator stated early on that Luz is bisexual and Amity lesbian); there was controversy when the third season was announced to be just three double-length episodes, because an executive felt the show did not fit the Disney brand. There has been speculation this was because, since the LGBT representation involves the main character, it is difficult to edit out of broadcasts in what might politely be called conservative markets. For example, a Disney Southeast Asia dub changed "Do you wanna go out with me?" to "Let's dress up and travel together" – made particularly absurd by the blushing pair having just been in a Tunnel of Love. The Owl House is a major animated series: very funny, moving and inventive, with a large well-characterized cast and an exciting plot, whose message – that individuality and weirdness are positive attributes – is not subtly presented, but is a healthy one. [SP]

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