Tangled: Before Ever After

Disclaimer: Tangled is my favorite movie. Not just my favorite Disney movie. My favorite movie. So when Disney announced they were making an animated TV show, I was very excited and very skeptical. I couldn’t wait to watch it.

So, was it good? The short answer is yes. If you like Disney and cuteness and badass female characters, it is definitely worth a watch.

The series opens with an hour-long special set six months after the end of the movie. It’s finally time for Rapunzel’s coronation, but she’s feeling stifled by her “happily ever after.” She dreamed of being able to go and see the world once she left Mother Gothel’s tower, but instead, she’s locked up behind another wall for her protection, learning all the rules on how to be a good princess. After spending eighteen years with very little social interaction, she struggles to interact with strangers, as well to adapt to strange inventions like shoes, and clearly misses the one single day of adventure she had in the movie. She wants her escape from Mother Gothel to mean freedom, while her father sees it as a second chance to keep her safe.

Which leads to an interesting setup, because although the show does provide a more traditional villain, the real enemy is still Mother Gothel and the after-effects of her cruelty. Rapunzel’s father is terrified that something is going to happen to her again. Rapunzel is terrified of what happens when someone gets too much control over you and walls you off from the world. And the conflict between these two fears, and between Rapunzel’s dreams and the reality of “happily ever after,” appears to be the driving force of the series.

That said, the TV movie is a lot of fun as well. The writing is sharp and funny, and the animation is gorgeous, although the change in style takes some getting used to. Obviously, there’s a shift in feel as the story moves from the context of a feature length Disney movie to a TV cartoon, and so, despite what I mentioned above, it does often have the light tone similar to Disney’s mini-sequels like Frozen Fever. I’ve never really enjoyed those that much, but there are enough clever jokes and thoughtful emotional arcs here to make it work.

Not to mention the show’s great cast of female characters. I already love Cassandra, Rapunzel’s “lady in waiting” who has picked up a trick or two as the daughter of the captain of the guard. Rapunzel’s mother also gets her own backstory and important role to play, and even the one-off villain is the incredibly cool-looking Lady Caine.

The shippiness between Rapunzel and Eugene is also A+. No spoilers here, but… it’s so good, y’all. I especially like the contrasting perspectives of Rapunzel and Eugene. Eugene wants to stay in the palace forever, because he’s been out and seen the world, and struggled in it, and so this luxury and permanence is appealing. For Rapunzel, who has only ever been in one “safe” and comfortable place, the same set-up is stifling.

Oh, and did I mention Alan Menken is back to write songs for the show? I am obsessed with them already.

If you want a fun cartoon, I really recommend it. It’s clearly a kids’ show — we’re not talking Adventure Time here — but it’s really enjoyable to watch, at least so far. I could definitely see myself binge watching the first season after it all comes out, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m not going to be able to wait. It’s fun, it’s true to the movie, and it has songs by Alan Menken. I can’t wait for more.

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