The Owl House

The Owl House is an American animated fantasy television series created by Dana Terrace that premiered on Disney Channel on January 10, 2020.[1][5][6] The series stars the voices of Sarah-Nicole Robles, Wendie Malick, Alex Hirsch, Tati Gabrielle, Issac Ryan Brown, Mae Whitman, Cissy Jones, Matthew Rhys, Zeno Robinson, and Fryda Wolff.

The Owl House
The Owl House logo.png
Genre
Created byDana Terrace
Voices of
Theme music composerT.J. Hill
Opening theme"The Owl House Main Theme"
ComposersT.J. Hill[3] (season 1)
Brad Breeck (season 2)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes40 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producerDana Terrace
ProducerWade Wisinski
EditorKevin Locarro
Running time
  • 22 minutes (seasons 1-2)
  • 44 minutes (season 3)[4]
Production companyDisney Television Animation
Release
Original networkDisney Channel
Picture formatHDTV 1080p
Original releaseJanuary 10, 2020 (2020-01-10) –
present

In November 2019, the series was renewed for a second season prior to the series premiere,[7] which premiered on June 12, 2021.[4][8] In May 2021, the series was renewed for a third season consisting of three specials, ahead of the second season premiere,[4] later announced to be the final season of the series.[8][9]

The Owl House has received widespread critical acclaim by both critics and audiences and has become particularly notable for its LGBTQIA+ representation compared to other Disney media, including becoming the first Disney property to feature a same-sex couple in leading roles, as well as the first Disney animated show to feature a same-sex kiss involving lead characters. The series also won an award for Children's & Youth Programming at the 2021 Peabody Awards.

PremiseEdit

The series centers on Luz Noceda, a teenage Dominican-American human girl who accidentally stumbles into the Demon Realm, where she arrives at the Boiling Isles, an archipelago formed from the remains of a dead Titan, and befriends the rebellious witch Eda Clawthorne, also known as the "The Owl Lady", and her adorable demon housemate King. Despite not having magical abilities, Luz pursues her dream of becoming a witch by serving as Eda's apprentice at the Owl House and ultimately finds a new family in an unlikely setting.[10]

In the second season, directly following the end of the first season, the main characters work together to return Luz to the Human Realm, help Eda confront her curse, and search for the truth about King’s past while contending with Emperor Belos and his minions who are preparing for the Day of Unity, which wants the unification of the Demon and Human Realms.[7]

EpisodesEdit

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
119January 10, 2020 (2020-01-10)August 29, 2020 (2020-08-29)
221June 12, 2021 (2021-06-12)May 28, 2022 (2022-05-28)

CharactersEdit

ProductionEdit

BackgroundEdit

 
Series creator Dana Terrace in 2021

Dana Terrace first began conceiving early ideas for a series about a girl learning to be a witch in late 2016.[11] While working on DuckTales, Terrace didn't feel "fulfilled artistically or emotionally", so she began to research influences and work from her college years, eventually rediscovering the works of artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Remedios Varo, inspiring her to create a show for Disney that features strong surreal visual elements.[12][13][14]

In 2018, it was reported that Dana Terrace, previously a storyboard artist for Gravity Falls and later a director on the 2017 DuckTales reboot, was creating and executive-producing an animated series, titled The Owl House, for Disney Television Animation. The series was greenlit alongside Amphibia in 2018 and was set originally for a 2019 release, but it was delayed for a 2020 release.[15][10][16] Terrace is the fourth woman to create a series for Disney Television Animation, after Pepper Ann with Sue Rose, Doc McStuffins with Chris Nee, and Star vs. the Forces of Evil with Daron Nefcy.

DevelopmentEdit

Terrace said that the general lore for the series was inspired by art and storybooks by Hieronymus Bosch.[13] According to Terrace, the hardest decision when creating the series was whether to implement potential lore elements in the series.[13] Terrace also stated the lore of the series is "70 percent made up", with writers also drawing inspiration from books about witchcraft for spells and character names, to add depth to its lore.[12] The Pokémon franchise served as a strong influence on the series.[12]

Eda was the earliest character created for the show.[12] Terrace said the character is inspired by "the women who raised me. My aunts, my Nana and my mom, they're all in the Owl Lady".[12] The second character created was King, who was described by Terrace as "a little guy that wants to be big", something she related to.[2] Luz was the final main character created and was inspired by consultant and story artist Luz Batista.[12] Batista agreed to let Terrace use her name for the series' main character on the condition that she be Dominican-American, which Terrace agreed to.[2][17] The character's personality was inspired by "stories of each other about what dorks we were in high school", as well as parts from Terrace's own childhood.[17] Alex Hirsch, Terrace's partner and creator of the TV series Gravity Falls, on which Terrace served as a storyboard artist and revisionist, serves as a creative consultant on the series.[12]

Several of the series' themes are inspired by Terrace's childhood.[14] The series features themes of uniqueness and conformity, which were inspired by Terrace's experience at school, where she was mocked for her habit of drawing roadkill, only to meet people with similarly different personalities when she went to a new school.[14] The series also explores the idea of getting close to fulfilling a dream, yet being unable to completely fulfill it, inspired by how Terrace was told that she wouldn't be a cartoonist, only to "[find her] own path".[14]

Hirsch said that while there was a concern with the Disney Channel over the series' horror elements, Terrace nevertheless chooses to feature horror elements, arguing that "Disney is the full spectrum of emotions, creatures and scary things".[12] Terrace said that Disney "allowed me to do more than I thought they would". Terrace also said that the producers "[don't] want to pull [their] punches on the show" in its horror elements, as she "loved being a little scared" as a child, though she also wanted to balance them with comedy and heartfelt moments.[11] She described the magic elements on the show as "a framing device for the grounded emotional stories" featured in the series.[11]

The series initially had a darker tone, as Terrace wanted to create a TV series targeted at older audiences "where things like whimsy and darkness can coexist", but had to tone it down during season 1 to find a compromise between her personal ideas and Disney executives' wishes, though she nevertheless was proud of the final product. The tone of Season 2 is closer to what Terrace originally intended.[12][18]

AnimationEdit

The show is animated by Rough Draft Korea, Sunmin Image Pictures, and Sugarcube Animation.[19] Terrace said that the visual style was inspired by paintings by Remedios Varo, John Bauer and Hieronymus Bosch, as well as Russian architecture.[20] By December 2019, the show had 120 people working on the show, including those in the animation studios, and 50 staffers on the pre-production crew.[21]

Spencer Wan served as animation supervisor during season one.[22] Disney initially refused for the series to have an in-house animator, feeling Wan may not meet their "overseas pipeline", but he was eventually hired.[22] Kofi Fiagome serves as animation supervisor for season two.[22] Terrace also provided rough animation for three season 2 episodes.[23]

Ricky Cometa served as art director for the series.[11] Cometa first became involved with the series when Terrace began working on the pilot, before the series was green-lighted by Disney, and was approached by Terrace, a fan and friend of Cometa's because she "really wanted to work with someone who I vibed with, someone whose style I knew, that could execute the kind of weird junk I wanted to do", and Cometa agreed to work on the series due to being interested in the concept.[11] Cometa said that he wanted to "try and show the dualities between the Demon Realm and the human realm, and with a little twist of demons and eyeballs and bones and whatnot".[11] He also didn't want all demons on the show to have scary appearances, as they are supposed to represent normal people within the show.[11]

Terrace said that Luz's design was "challenging", as she struggled to create a design for Luz that didn't make her look too old or that felt too much like a costume.[11] Cometa eventually created a t-shirt for Luz to wear that is "low key, and like a nod to all our fellow nerds out there".[11] Cometa said that it was "fun" to design demonic versions of commonplaces.[11] The animators also changed real-life elements to further distinguish the Boiling Isles from Earth, such as making the ocean purple.[24]

On July 19, 2019, Terrace announced that T.J. Hill composed the series' score.[3] On January 10, 2020, Hill said that the score features "interesting and experimental sounds that [he] had a ton of fun cooking up".[25] In the second season, Gravity Falls and Star vs. the Forces of Evil composer Brad Breeck took over as composer.

By March 2020, Disney Television Animation was closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the production crew to work on season 2 remotely from their homes.[26]

BroadcastEdit

On June 10, 2019, the trailer premiered during the show's Annecy 2019 panel. It was uploaded to Disney Channel's YouTube channel a day later.[5][20]

The show's main title sequence was released on July 19, 2019, during San Diego Comic-Con 2019.[27] The show released a sneak peek and an official end credit sequence on October 4, 2019, during a panel at New York Comic Con 2019. The show's main title sequence for season 2 was released on May 17, 2021.[4] A trailer for season 2 was released on June 3, 2021.[28]

Season 1 aired its 19th and final episode on August 29, 2020.[29] On November 21, 2019, the series was renewed for a second season prior to the first season's debut.[7] On May 17, 2021, the series was renewed for a third season, which will consist of three 44-minute specials, ahead of the second season premiere.[4] The episode order was much shorter than the 10–20 episodes that the production team was anticipating, only for Terrace to later confirm in a response to a fan's question that it would be the final season.[30][8]

In October 2021, in an AMA on Reddit, Terrace explained the series was cut short not because of its ratings or the COVID-19 pandemic, but rather because executives at The Walt Disney Company believed that it did not fit "into the Disney brand." She stated that this was the case due to the serialized nature of the show and an audience which "skews older," rather than due to its LGBTQ+ representation, saying that she would not "assume bad faith" against those she works with in Burbank. Terrace also noted that due to the pandemic, budgets were constrained and episodes were cut, further adding that she was not allowed to present a case for a fourth season. However, Terrace said that she believed there was a future for the show if Disney Branded Television had "different people in charge."[31][32]

When asked about the series' future on Twitter, Terrace expressed interest in continuing it in other media.[33][34][8] This content could include comics and doing a limited series centering on Eda's past, as well as other potential spin-offs, though Terrace stating the three specials of season 3 were the end of the main story, persuading fans to ask Disney regarding more content based on the show.[35][36]

The Owl House had its first international debut in Canada on January 12, 2020,[37] in Southeast Asia on March 20, 2020,[38] in Turkey on April 6, 2020,[39] in Latin America on April 13, 2020,[40] in France on April 15, 2020,[41] in South Korea on May 23, 2020,[42] in Japan on July 23, 2020,[43] in the UK & Ireland on August 10, 2020,[44][45] in the Netherlands on August 24, 2020,[46] in Spain on October 3, 2020,[47] in Africa on October 26, 2020,[48] in Romania and Bulgaria on January 2, 2021,[49] in Poland on Disney XD on January 4, 2021,[50] and in Scandinavia on February 15, 2021.[51]

The entire first season was added to Disney+ in the United States on October 30, 2020.[52] In the U.S., the first five episodes of the second season were added to Disney+ on July 21, 2021,[53][54] while episodes six through ten were added on August 18.[55]

The show was supposed to premiere on January 2, 2021 on the local Disney Channels of Hungary and Czechia, but it was ultimately not aired in those countries due to the series' positive stances towards the LGBTQ+ community.[56] It will premiere exclusively on Disney+ in 2022.[citation needed]

LGBTQ+ representationEdit

The Owl House has been praised for featuring several characters who are LGBTQ+, in particular the romance between the characters of Luz Noceda and Amity Blight.[57][58] Series creator Dana Terrace first implied a romance between the two on July 7, 2020, when responding to a fan who posted a screenshot from the upcoming episode "Enchanting Grom Fright" on Twitter which showed Amity putting her hands on Luz's shoulders and looking into her eyes. Claiming "there is no heterosexual explanation" for Amity's action, Terrace responded, "there really isn't".[59] On August 8, 2020, the episode, written by Molly Ostertag,[60] aired, and it featured a scene in which Luz and Amity dance together while casting spells to defeat "Grom," a demon that manifests as their deepest fears. The animation supervisor for the show, Spencer Wan, referred to their intimate dance as "the gay thing"[61] and the first time he got to "do anything even remotely queer."[62]

On September 2, 2020, during a Reddit AMA, Dana Terrace confirmed that Amity is intended to be a lesbian and that Luz is bisexual.[63] The two girls represent Disney's second animated LGBTQ+ characters after Sheriff Blubbs and Deputy Derland in Gravity Falls, and the first to be unambiguously portrayed as such.[62] In the episode "Understanding Willow", one of the main characters (Willow Park) is shown to have two dads.[64] Some noted that beginning of the show's second season, which began airing in 2021, continued to build out the relationship between Amity and Luz, with Luz reciprocating Amity's feelings at the end of "Escaping Expulsion" and both blushing at each other. Others praised Amity's character evolving outside her "relationship with Luz."[18]

The series was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Kids and Family Programming in 2021[65] and won a Peabody Award for "...giving queer kids a welcome template...to explore their own budding creative energies."[66]

On July 10, 2021, the episode "Through the Looking Glass Ruins" premiered, which focused heavily on Gus' development as a character and how much he's grown since his last major appearance.[67] However, the episode received significant attention and press over Luz and Amity's growing relationship and its ending, in which Amity kisses Luz on the cheek.[68][35] The episode "Eda's Requiem" features a character named Raine Whispers, who goes by they/them pronouns and is voiced by transgender and non-binary actor Avi Roque.[69][70] Raine is both Disney TVA's and Disney's first transgender and/or non-binary character.[71][72] Roque said that the character is based around their own experience, with the character's skin color to reflect their actual skin color, praised the show as normalizing queer identity, and said it was an honor to voice Raine.[35] In the episode, Eda Clawthorne is shown to have feelings for Raine. The subsequent episode, "Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Hooty's Door", reveals that Eda and Raine were formerly dating, before breaking up.[73][35] The episode also has Luz and Amity asking each other out, officially becoming a couple.[74] GLAAD praised the episode, saying they were excited to see a "wonderful and affirming message" from the series.[75] Jade King of TheGamer praised the series for having a fictional universe where queer characters can "learn to love themselves without the fear of ridicule," comparing it to the similar approaches in Steven Universe and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, noting the relationship between Luz and Amity.[76] In March 2022, Lilith, Eda's older sister, was confirmed to be aromantic and asexual during a charity livestream, via an in-character letter read by the character's voice actress Cissy Jones.[77][78][79] Jade King of The Gamer noted that Cissy Jones said that her letter during a charity stream saying that Lilith didn't have any romantic attractions was "basically canon," further confirming those identities.[80] On May 21, 2022, the penultimate episode to season two "Clouds on the Horizon" aired, in which Luz and Amity share a kiss on the lips.

ReceptionEdit

Critical receptionEdit

The Owl House has received widespread critical acclaim. Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media rated the show 4 out of 5 stars and said putting different elements together made the series quirky and likable. It was also described as well written and animated, and speculated that "[the show] likely will be one you will want to watch alongside your older kids and tweens, giving you the opportunity to discuss these kinds of themes as they come up."[81] LaughingPlace.com's critic praised the series for its unique visuals and voice acting, stating "The performances fit together beautifully as the diversity in their delivery showcases the characters' unique roles in the Demon Realm."[82] Collider's Dave Trumbore gave the series' first episode a 4-star rating, feeling that the episode "[has] got a dark, yet darkly comic edge to the whole thing."[83] The conservative evangelical Christian religious television network Christian Broadcasting Network attacked the show, declaring it was part of a "witch agenda to make witchcraft look positive," an assessment that a writer for The Mary Sue called "hyperbolic," and stated that a "rebellious Latina witch" is, to those like CBN, "probably the scariest thing," while stating that the show sounds like "a ton of fun."[84]

Kevin Johnson of The A.V. Club was critical of the series, stating that they were not "buying the developments between Amity and Luz," but praised Eda's character.[85] Ben Bertoli was more positive. He wrote that Terrace and those working on the job had done a great job creating a fantasy world, relatable characters, and predicted a "big animation fandom."[86] Nick Venable wrote that fans of Gravity Falls and Steven Universe would love the series because the "otherworld-ness of the Boiling Isle[s] immediately asserts itself" while the show makes "relationships feel genuine and tactile," following in the footsteps of those shows.[87] At the same time, Colin Hickson of Comic Book Resources praised the series, while noting that the opening of the series would give "any Gravity Falls fans a major sense of deja vu."[88] Jade King of TheGamer described the show as a "groundbreaking queer adventure" that has broken boundaries in LGBTQ+ representation, noting how it builds off to She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and Steven Universe. King also said that the show could make sure "queer content isn't merely a footnote to the overall story" but ingrained into the show itself.[89] The first season holds a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. [90]

AccoladesEdit

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2020 Autostraddle Gay Emmys Outstanding Animated Series The Owl House Nominated [91]
2021 GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Kids and Family Programming The Owl House Nominated [65]
Annie Awards Best Character Design Marina Gardner (for "Young Blood, Old Souls") Nominated [92]
Peabody Awards Children's & Youth Programming The Owl House (Shared with Stillwater) Won [93]
Daytime Emmys Outstanding Main Title for a Daytime Animated Program The Owl House Nominated [94]
Imagen Awards Best Voice-Over Actor – Television Sarah-Nicole Robles (for Luz Noceda) Nominated [95]
Autostraddle Gay Emmys Outstanding Animated Series The Owl House Nominated [96]
2022 GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Kids and Family Programming The Owl House Nominated [97]
BMI Film & TV Awards BMI Cable Television Awards TJ Hill Won [98]

Cancelled novelEdit

A light novel based on The Owl House was set to be released in May 2022.[99] According to Dana Terrace, the novel was to feature an original story based on the in-universe fictional character "The Good Witch Azura".[100] However, it was confirmed by Dana Terrace on March 25, 2022, in a now-deleted tweet, that the light novel had been cancelled due to financial disputes between the publisher and authors hired to write the book.[101]

ReferencesEdit

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