WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Netflix's The Dragon Prince, streaming now.
As a streaming service that heavily targets young adults and millennials, Netflix has made pushing the envelope when it comes to diversity and inclusivity an overt part of building its audience. While this has come mainly from its live-action offerings, the platform-turned-content creator has also been working with creators to convey progressive messages via animated series and movies.
Despite recent mistakes, however, namely the mishandling of Shiro's homosexuality in Voltron: Legendary Defender, The Dragon Prince's recently released second season goes a long way in making up for previous missteps by finally giving us an inspirational lesbian power couple in a way that makes the world of difference.
The Dragon Prince's new season focuses on five human kingdoms uniting to fight off an incoming magical threat from the land of Xadia. Elves, dragons and other mythical creatures are encroaching on their lands. Thus, the sly Viren, temporarily acting as regent of Katolis, tries to form an alliance to hold back their enemies. He holds court with the rulers of the other kingdoms from Delbar, Evenere, Neolandia and, most notably, Duren. While trying to convince the young queen Aanya of Duren to send her warriors as well, her hesitance leads Viren to regale the group with the story about her mothers, Queen Neha and Queen Annika.
We learn the rulers partnered with Katolis nine years earlier to venture into Xadia to kill a Magma Titan (think of the volcanic Balrog monster from Lord of the Rings), so they could use its heart in a ritual and bring prosperity to the kingdoms plagued by famine. They eventually succeed, with both queens playing key roles in killing the beast, and as they're celebrating victory, The Dragon Prince provides us a landmark moment in modern all-ages animation. The queens embrace affectionately and plant a big lip-lock on each other. It's not a kiss pandering to the LGBT community, but a genuinely endearing scene that shows two rulers in love, ecstatic that they just saved their people.
Unlike the Shiro kiss in the end scenes of Voltron, it doesn't came off as patronizing or throwaway. It fully embraces its lesbian characters -- something She-Ra and the Princesses of Power danced around by ultimately omitting Bow's gay fathers and showing two Rebel Princesses, Netossa and Spinnerella, merely holding hands. These queens kissing like this, with no fear or worry, is a major step forward in pop culture history.
Commendations must go to The Dragon Prince creatives for how the white-haired Annika and the dark-skinned Neha are presented, not just as an interracial gay couple, but as two of the best warriors in the land. Sadly, they end up sacrificing their lives to allow Viren, his king Harrow, and their company to escape back home, but this is not in vain. Their selfless action inspires the teenage Aanya to become a powerful queen herself, giving young female viewers a genuine role model to look up to.
Admittedly, it does detract a bit from their overall arc, and some fans have complained that their being killed perpetuates the "bury your gays" trope that we last saw with Voltron's Adam. And while that's certainly a worthwhile debate to have, the importance of that moment, a kiss shared between two proud warriors in love with each other, cannot be undersold. It's nice to see lesbians riding alongside each other, sharing passionate kisses in your face, as opposed to subtle motions such as hand-holding or fleeting glances. The Dragon Prince takes a step -- a small one in some ways, yes, but a step vast in its importance.
Season 2 of The Dragon Prince is now available to stream on Netflix.