Thursday, June 19, 2014

5 Lessons Learned from Gargoyles: The Animated Series

While out shopping last night for some mouse traps and cereal (mine is a life of glamour and luxury), I came across a DVD of the Gargoyles: The Animated Series.  I had to stop and send a picture to my sister.  This show used to be our hardcore jam and introduced to me Shakespeare’s Macbeth and a Midsummer’s Night Dream.

All for the low, low price of  $9.96

If you have not watched the series, stop reading and move on the next delightful post on my blog.  I have some cute ones about comics and crafts.

However if you ever have watched Disney’s Gargoyles: The Animated Series during your youth or during some random late night marathon session, then onward ho, friends!

Gargoyles came during a time when the Disney animated series swung a little into the dark side.  Airing alongside similar cartoon series such as Darkwing Duck and the rival Batman the Animated Series, Gargoyles followed the adventures of Goliath and his fellow companions, as they went from stone during the day to live flesh at night.  Teaming up with a female cop, Elisa Maza, the gargoyles enjoyed adventures in modern day New York City, mostly adventures about saving New York City from criminals. 

Like a demonic butterfly, emerging from it's cocoon.
Looking back, Gargoyles shared some pretty progressive viewpoints for young children.  The show never played down or played dumb for its young viewers.  This October will mark the 20th anniversary since its premiere episode.  In its honor, I present five lessons learned from watching Gargoyles: The Animated Series.

Lesson One – New York, New York

 By naming main characters after landmarks, children can become familiar with New York City.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Spiderman and Daredevil well enough and through those characters know about New York neighborhood Queens and Hell’s Kitchen, which isn’t a cool restaurant that, like, puts hot sauce on everything (which is what I totally thought as a kid) but I didn’t start reading comic books until I was a little bit older.  Everything I knew about New York as a child came from watching the movie Annie and watching Gargoyles.  Goliath notwithstanding, the other gargoyles chose names from New York City landmarks, and thus became known in their new home as Brooklyn, Hudson, Lexington and their dog-like companion Bronx.  This way years before celebrities picked up on the same idea for naming their own offspring.  This was my first exposure to the streets, neighborhoods and river of New York.

Of  course ....Bronx is the dog....

Lesson Two – To Be or Not To Be

Kids will understand Shakespeare if it’s presented in a cartoon.

Other characters were named after several characters from Shakespearean plays such as MacBeth, Othello and a Midsummer’s Night Eve.  Scottish and English mythology was featured heavily in the second season of the Gargoyles series.  Characters were constantly plotting against and double crossing one another, mainstays of the Shakespearean plays.  Before I entered high school I was aware of names like Othello, Desdemona, Oberon and Macbeth.  Alluding to mythology gave the series depth and complexity that is still rarely seen in cartoons today.  It was specifically because of this, that I loved Gargoyles.  The plot was not afraid to dive head first into material that is mostly Shakespearean in origin.

Also, King Arthur.

Lesson Three – Biracial is Beautiful

One of the lead characters, Elisa Maza, was of African American and Native American descent. 

Now my sisters and I have pretty fair skin.  I usually burn in the summertime if not wearing sunscreen. We grew up in a pretty standard middle class, white neighborhood and fit in.  However as my last name suggests, ironic since my dad is the white one, we are half white and half Mexican.  To see my mom, you would probably guess she is an accent less Italian-American woman with large dark eyes and olive skin.  Still, as a kid I was subtly aware that all the Disney princess were white until Jasmine and Pocahontas came along and even though Ninja Turtles were mutants, their best friend was still a white reporter April O’Neil.  Ethnic characters appeared on Captain Planet and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers but biracial lead characters weren’t really a thing.  You were either black, white, tan, green or whatever but Elisa was a badass.  Yes she was pretty, but even more so she was level-headed, brave, and strong.

Lesson Four – Our Love is Strong

No damsels in distress here.

Much like the relationship in Beauty and the Beast, NYC cop Elisa Maza and head gargoyle Goliath gradually became a couple.  Although it was always thinly veiled, obviously Disney didn't want to take an inter-species relationship too far.

Until this happened......I'm looking at you Treasure Planet

What I liked is that both Elisa and Goliath were pro-active, tough and smart.  Both were genuinely tolerant and open minded of each other species, bringing out the best of each other.  I remember when Beauty and Beast came out, my sisters fell in love with Belle.  Not only did they have the same brown hair and hazel eyes, but they loved Belle because she was proactive and smart.  Her priorities were always about her family and true love was at the bottom of her list.  Elisa and Goliath are cut from the same cloth.  Both put the welfare of others before their own desires and have come to recognize that quality in each other.  They started out as true equals and progressed to a power couple.  Relationship equality is heady stuff for children’s program but it stuck with me, nonetheless, probably for the betterment of my future.

She's got a gun and wearing JNCOs, baby I'm in love.

Lesson Five – Bitches Get Stuff Done

Demona is a bitch. 

Her name literally means “She demon”.  As one of the main antagonists of the Gargoyles series, Demona is a female gargoyle that used to be Goliath’s mate and the mother of their daughter, Angela.  Unaffected by the spell that places the rest of the gargoyles in an animated suspension by turning them to stone, Demona lives through the centuries in which the other gargoyles sleep through.  By witnessing the humans’ potential for cruelness and destruction, Demona seeks to take over the leadership of the gargoyles and to rule over or wipe out humankind.  Voiced by Marina Sirtis, of Star Trek fame, Demona spoke with authority and elegance.  An accomplished fighter who dabbled in sorcery and later in spinoff sequels was the CEO of her own company, Demona proves herself so much more than a wife and a mother.  A warrior, a leader, a sorcerer, an ally and a supervillan, Demona was that rare foe that had believable motivations for her actions.  Demona wasn’t totally wrong, she was the Magneto to Goliath’s Charles Xavier and every bit as strong, smart and capable.

She also wore a crown of sorts....LIKE A BAWSE!!

Now you totally want to watch an episode, riiiiiiiiiiiiiight?


  1. although you advised that I shouldn't read on, I did and now I'm kinda gutted I missed out on this! ah, kid's shows some of them were ace x

    1. Hahaha, yeah some kids' shows were craaaazy!