The Proud Family
GenreAdventure
Animated sitcom
Coming-of-age
Created byBruce W. Smith
Developed by
  • Bruce W. Smith
  • Doreen Spicer
Voices of
Opening theme"The Proud Family Theme Song" performed by Solange Knowles and Destiny's Child
Ending theme"The Proud Family Theme Song" (instrumental)
Composers
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes52 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Mercedes J. Sichon
  • Gillian Higgins
Running time20–22 minutes
Production companiesJambalaya Studios
Hyperion Animation
Original release
NetworkDisney Channel
ReleaseSeptember 15, 2001 (2001-09-15) –
August 19, 2005 (2005-08-19)
Related

The Proud Family is an American animated television series created by Bruce W. Smith that aired on Disney Channel for two seasons from September 15, 2001, to August 19, 2005. The series centers on the life of the titular family, including the show’s main protagonist, Penny Proud, a 14-year-old African American teenager who navigates her adolescence while dealing with her friends and family. Episodes deal with Penny discovering her boundaries and struggling with family relationships and peer pressure. Penny Proud has strong relationships with her entrepreneurial father Oscar Proud and her veterinarian mother Trudy Proud, as well as her friends Dijonay Jones, LaCienega Boulevardez, Zoey Howzer, and Sticky Webb.

Bruce W. Smith previously directed the film, Bebe's Kids, which was a box office failure. Because of the lack of African-American animated shows, Smith co-founded Jambalaya Studios to create diverse projects. The Proud Family is the first project to be created from the company, starting development in 1998. Smith was inspired to create the series due to the lack of African-American empowerment in animation. Based on his experiences with a middle-class African-American family in Los Angeles, the series featured several elements in animated sitcoms with socially relevant themes, a style that was done in The Simpsons and King of the Hill.

The Proud Family is the first animated series to air exclusively on Disney Channel.[1] The series premiered on September 15, 2001, as part of the network's programming block Zoog Disney. The series received generally positive reviews for its humor and themes, but received some criticism for its stereotypes. A feature film, The Proud Family Movie, premiered as the series finale on August 19, 2005. A revival, known as The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, premiered on February 23, 2022, on Disney+ .

Characters

[edit]

Main

[edit]
The main characters of The Proud Family (from left to right): Penny Proud, Suga Mama Proud, Puff the Dog, Trudy Proud, Oscar Proud, and BeBe and CeCe Proud (below)

Supporting

[edit]

Episodes

[edit]
SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
121September 15, 2001 (2001-09-15)May 24, 2002 (2002-05-24)
231September 27, 2002 (2002-09-27)August 19, 2005 (2005-08-19)
TV movieAugust 19, 2005 (2005-08-19)

Crossover with Lilo & Stitch

[edit]

The Proud Family visit Hawaii in an episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series, entitled "Spats", in which they stay at Jumba & Pleakley's Bed & Not Breakfast and Suga Mama inadvertently activates an experiment that causes spats.

Production

[edit]

Origin and development

[edit]

"Growing in L.A. in a family of six kids, we had some crazy episodes, and I thought it would be a cool idea to bring all that stuff to the screen. I wouldn't say it's edgy the way South Park is edgy–it's edgy but it has a heart."

Bruce W. Smith on his interview with Charles Solomon, The Los Angeles Times[22]

American animator and character designer Bruce W. Smith had previously directed the animated film Bebe's Kids.[23] Based on comedian Robin Harris' stand-up comedy act of the same name,[24] it was the first animated film to be targeted at a Black audience.[22][23] Released on July 31, 1992, by Paramount Pictures, it was a box-office flop, and it received negative reviews from critics.[25] Since the 1970s, only a few animated series had an African-American focus, including Little Bill in 1999.[23]

In 1999, Smith co-founded Jambalaya Studios with Hyperion Pictures to bring more "racially and ethnically" diverse animated projects to television, movies, and the internet.[23][26][27][28] The Proud Family was the first project created for the company.[27][28][29][30] The series started development in 1998.[22] Smith was inspired to create the series because he did not see the characters of color represented in animation.[31] Upon creating the series, Smith drew his experiences with a middle-class African-American family in Los Angeles.[22][23] The conception of the series was also inspired by his fatherhood of three children.[23] In 2000, Smith told Charles Solomon of The Los Angeles Times that he wanted to create a middle-class African-American family that was "not so much Cosby-esque as Cosby-esque with a really interesting slant."[22] The name of the series was inspired by his meeting with co-founder Tom Wilhite when Smith showed him the main characters drawn in a family portrait.[27]

The series' lead character, Penny Proud, was partially based on Smith's daughter Rachel.[23] According to Smith in 2001, he saw the series as an instructional video to his daughter.[2] Oscar's mother, Suga Mama, was named after Smith's mother, Mary, who disliked being called "grandma".[23][27] His mother's personality traits were also included for the character,[32] including her "bold spirit".[27] Oscar and Trudy Proud were based on Smith and his wife Denise.[27] Papi Boulevardez's physical appearance was inspired by Cesar Romero as the Joker in Batman (1966).[27]

Casting

[edit]

Kyla Pratt was cast as the lead character Penny Proud.[2][3][4][5] At the time, Pratt identified with her character's personality traits because they both "[knew] when to be sweet and when to have a little attitude", and they both liked being a "regular kid", "going to school", and "work[ing] [their] own way".[2] Pratt also related to the episodes, stating that they taught her how to "deal with things that happened [in the episodes]."[2] Pratt recorded dialogue for the series on days when she was not rehearsing and taping for One on One.[5] Soleil Moon Frye, best known as the title character on Punky Brewster, was cast as Zoey Howzer.[2][7] Describing the character as a "wonderfully fun and cute and crazy little character", Frye told TVData Features Syndicate that she was "having fun playing [her character]".[2]

Writing

[edit]

Featuring several conventions in every animated sitcom with socially relevant themes,[30] Smith wanted to create "something for the audience to laugh at" and give them "something to take away and be proud in terms of what [Black] culture represents."[32] Although essentially an animated sitcom, Smith set up as an action-oriented show and included things that would be impossible for a live-action sitcom.[30] Smith cited the first season episode "I Had a Dream" as one of the examples, stating that the premise is similar to Back to the Future, and the premise would not be done in a "live-action half hour" show.[30] According to TVData Features Syndicate, the dialogue included a "hip-hop vocabulary primer", and the series blended classic family themes with coming-of-age elements reminiscent of The Cosby Show and Degrassi Junior High.[2]

Animation and design

[edit]

In terms of design, Smith wanted the colors to "create a harmony" without "ghetto hues" for a mainstream look.[32]

Themes

[edit]

Due to a few pitches of all cartoons featuring African-Americans,[33] The Proud Family is one of the few animated kids shows that featured an African-American protagonist[33] and one of the few animated sitcoms to feature African-Americans as lead characters.[31] Dealing with themes of bullying, gossip, responsibility, and others, The Proud Family highlighted the importance of discrimination, stereotyping, and culture differences.[34] With universal themes rooted in the African-American culture, The Proud Family was considered "groundbreaking" for television due to its depiction on an African-American family in their day-to-day lives.[35] According to Michael Mallory of The Los Angeles Times, the series was also addressing the "diversity issue" more effectively than in primetime television at the time of publishing.[30] Smith told Mike Duffy of Detroit Free Press that the series is a "celebration [and inclusion] of all cultures."[23] Ben Hooper of TVData Features Syndicate commented that while several animated shows deal with "multicultural issues", The Proud Family "keeps it realer, skews closer to realityby presenting a multiracial cast of characters with which tweens in culturally diverse schools can identify."[2] Gerald Raiti of Kidscreen recalled that although the series is a satire of family life, it was "[communicating] to children of all races."[33]

The series also had themes of African-American history and liberation.[23][30] The first-season episode "I Had a Dream" experienced the importance of Black History Month and the life of a black person in the 1950s.[30] In the episode, Penny encountered racism and segregation after she time-traveled to the year 1955.[28] According to Smith on the holiday-themed episode "Seven Days of Kwanzaa", he implied Kwanzaa as the "true meaning of [December]", and he stated that "Kwanzaa is about someone leading a purposeful life, [and] it ties in with what we feel the Christmas spirit is about: family, giving, unity, purpose."[36]

Broadcast

[edit]

In January 1999, Animation World Network announced that Nickelodeon commissioned production for The Proud Family.[37] Although The Los Angeles Times implied that The Proud Family was picked up by Disney Channel on November 19, 2000,[38] Variety officially announced that Disney Channel was preparing The Proud Family for its lineup on March 26, 2001.[39] The series' debut episode, "Bring It On", first aired on September 15, 2001, on Disney Channel.[40] The show ran for two seasons and was followed by the 2005 film, The Proud Family Movie, which ended the series.[41]

Reruns

[edit]

On August 31, 2002, The Proud Family began airing in reruns on ABC as part of Disney's One Saturday Morning.[citation needed] Two weeks later, Disney's One Saturday Morning would be rebranded as ABC Kids[42] where The Proud Family continued airing until September 2, 2006, when it was removed from the lineup.[citation needed] The series was shown on Disney Channel as part of Disney Replay on October 1, 2015, and aired again on December 24, 2015, with the episode, "Seven Days of Kwanzaa".[citation needed] In December 2018, the episode was part of a holiday live stream on Disney Channel's YouTube channel.[citation needed] It also aired on Toon Disney until February 6, 2009, just six days before the channel was relaunched as Disney XD, BET in 2008 and Centric in 2010.[43][44]

The second-season episode "Wedding Bell Blues" was initially removed from reruns on the network in 2004 due to Oscar accusing Suga Mama's new boyfriend Clarence of being a gigolo.[citation needed] The episode is currently available on Disney+.[45] Another second-season episode "Who You Calling a Sissy?" was pulled after its initial airing on August 12, 2005, due to Michael Collins being called a sissy at the time.[citation needed] In 2022, it was confirmed that Michael Collins is gender non-conforming.[46] The episode is also currently available on Disney+.[45]

International

[edit]

The Proud Family aired on The Family Channel in Canada.[citation needed] In Jamaica, it aired on TVJ.[citation needed] In the United Kingdom, the series aired on ITV in 2002 as part of the network's Saturday morning Diggin' It show.[citation needed] The series has also aired on multiple international Disney Channel stations.[citation needed]

Streaming

[edit]

As of September 2020, the series is available for purchase on the iTunes Store,[47][48][49] Amazon Prime Video,[50] and Google TV.[51] The series became available to stream on Disney+ on January 1, 2020.[52] The first-season episode "Don't Leave Home Without It" was originally unavailable on all streaming services.[citation needed] The episode is currently available on Disney+,[45] iTunes,[47] and the complete series DVD.[citation needed]

Home media

[edit]

To celebrate the show's 20th anniversary, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released a 7-disc complete collection that includes the show for the first time ever on DVD, alongside The Proud Family Movie and Shorties on March 15, 2022.[53]

Music

[edit]
The Proud Family
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
Released
  • April 20, 2004
  • August 16, 2005 (re-release)
Genre
LabelWalt Disney

The soundtrack album for the show is a combination of both original songs by the characters in the show, songs by popular R&B music artists such as Alicia Keys, India.Arie, and Solange & Destiny's Child (who perform the theme song), and classic soul music from artists such as Aretha Franklin and the O'Jays.[54]

Track listing

[edit]
  1. "The Proud Family Theme Song" - Solange & Destiny's Child
  2. "Enjoy Yourself" - L.P.D.Z.
  3. "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" - Buckwheat Boyz
  4. "Respect" - Aretha Franklin
  5. "Fallin'" - Alicia Keys
  6. "Throw Em Up" - Lil' Romeo
  7. "Good Times" - Chic
  8. "Bobby's Jam: So Dysfunkshunal" - Cedric the Entertainer
  9. "Video" - India.Arie
  10. "More Love" - Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
  11. "We Are Best Friends" - L.P.D.Z.
  12. "Use ta Be My Girl" - the O'Jays
  13. "It's All About Me" - Penny Proud
  14. "You'll Never Find Another Love like Mine" - Lou Rawls

Reception

[edit]

Critical response

[edit]

The series received generally positive reviews from critics.[55] Mark Sachs of The Los Angeles Times commented that it is a "fresh-feeling animated show geared teens".[7] Betsy Wallace of Common Sense Media said that the series is a mix of positive role models, zany comedy, and stories which are relatable, while questioning the political point of having a famous basketball player own everything in town.[56] Nadira Goffe of Slate praised the series for its humor aimed at viewers, with clear inspirations for in-universe shows and references, and for starring a cast of Black teenagers of "all different shades and family makeups."[57] Todd Coleman of TelevisionWeek also praised the series for its "flat-out hilarious" humor, describing the series as "hip in style".[58]

Screen Rant praised the series for having a "perfect balance" of being hilarious and heartfelt while breaking barriers with its "BIPOC representation" behind the scenes and in the show itself.[59] Romper praised the series for positive representation of Black families, changing the narrative through each episode.[60] HuffPost lauded the series for allowing Black people to see versions of themselves "through expressive and entertaining characters.[61] Leila Etthachfini of Vice Media criticized the show for negative stereotypes of Asian, Muslim, and Black people, but stated that it is "a standout Disney show in many ways."[62]

Ratings

[edit]

The Proud Family was a "huge success" when it premiered.[55] During the 20032004 season, the series had an average Nielsen rating of 4.0 for kids 6 to 11.[33]

Awards and nominations

[edit]
Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2002 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Performance in a Youth or Children's Series/Special Tommy Davidson Nominated [63]
Outstanding Youth or Children's Series/Special The Proud Family Nominated
Artios Award Best Casting for Animated Voice Over, Television Eileen Mack Knight Won [64]
2003 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Cedric the Entertainer Won [65][66][31]
Ving Rhames Nominated
Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Series/Special Tommy Davidson Nominated
Jo Marie Payton Nominated
Kyla Pratt Nominated
Casting Society of America Best Casting for Animated Voice Over, Television Eileen Mack Knight Won [67]
30th Annie Awards Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Television Production Produced for Children The Proud Family Nominated [68]
Outstanding Character Design in an Animated Television Production Shannon Tindle for episode "Forbidden Date" Nominated
Outstanding Directing in an Animated Television Production Bruce W. Smith for episode "A Hero For Halloween" Nominated
Outstanding Writing in an Animated Television Production James E. West II & T. Smith III for episode "I Had A Dream" Nominated
2004 31st Annie Awards Outstanding Character Design in an Animated Television Production Shannon Tindle for episode "Culture Shock" Nominated [69]
BET Comedy Awards Outstanding Animated Series The Proud Family Won [70]
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Series/Special Tommy Davidson Nominated [31][71]
Kyla Pratt Nominated
2004 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon The Proud Family Nominated [72]
20th TCA Awards Outstanding Children's Programming The Proud Family Nominated [73]
NAMIC Vision Awards Best Comedic Performance Jo Marie Payton Nominated [74]
Paula Jai Parker Nominated
Children's "Tween Town" Nominated
2005 36th NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Series/Special Tommy Davidson Nominated [75]
Jo Marie Payton Nominated
Kyla Pratt Nominated
NAMIC Vision Awards Best Children's The Proud Family Won [76][77]
Best Comedic Performance Jo Marie Payton Nominated

Legacy

[edit]

Entertainment Weekly ranked The Proud Family as sixth on greatest Disney Channel Original Series, stating that the series was a "warm tale of a family sticking together despite all their frustrations."[78] The Proud Family was ranked at No. 17 on TV Guide's ranking of "The Best Disney Channel Shows".[79] The Proud Family was included on MTV's "15 Disney Channel Series We Wish We Could Watch Again".[34]

Other media

[edit]

Television film

[edit]

On May 30, 2005, The Proud Family Movie was announced as part of the "tween-targeted fare" on Disney Channel.[80] The film premiered as a Disney Channel Original Movie on August 19, 2005, on Disney Channel.[81] The film served as the series finale for show's original run. All of the cast reprised their roles for the film.[81] The film featured Omarion as 15 Cent and Arsenio Hall as Dr. Carver.[81]

Video game

[edit]

A video game based on the series was developed by Gorilla Systems and published by Buena Vista Games for the Game Boy Advance.[82] The game was released in November 2005 in North America, a few months after the show ended.[82] In the game, Penny works a variety of jobs to raise money so she can afford to buy her parents a T.H.A.N.G. (Total Home Automated Necessity Gizmo) for their upcoming wedding anniversary. Each job plays out as a minigame. Aside from Penny and her parents, other characters from the series also appear in the game, including Penny's friends and Suga Mama.[82][83] GameDaily and GameZone both rated the game 8 out of 10.[83][84]

Reboot

[edit]

In August 2019, Tommy Davidson stated that The Proud Family would be revived for a third season on Disney+.[85] On January 1, 2020, Disney executives approached Farquhar and Smith about reviving the series.[86] On February 27, 2020, it was announced that a reboot of the series has been ordered on Disney+.[87][88] The original cast (minus Tara Strong due to casting restrictions[broken anchor] and Orlando Brown due to his judicial processes) returned to reprise their roles.[89] Keke Palmer joined to voice a new character named Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins.[89] It premiered on Disney+ on February 23, 2022.[21][90][91]

References

[edit]
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Works cited

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