A Summary of the Controversy Surrounding the Season Finale to Amphibia
Around a month ago, the popular anthology series Infinity Train made waves on the Internet thanks to the release of its highly anticipated fourth season. However, said release was bittersweet due to the news that Warner’s had canceled the show. According to the series creator, the higher-ups argued that it had no entry-point for kids. Many argued that this was irrelevant due to the fact that many cartoons deal with adult themes, and that streaming makes it a moot point. However, another big takeaway is that big corporations are failing to respect the cartoons they create. As if to drive that point home, there’s the controversy surrounding the release of the season finale to Disney’s cartoon, Amphibia.
What is Amphibia?
For those of you who don’t know about the show, here’s a little context. Amphibia is a cartoon that premiered on Disney Channel back in 2019. It centers around Anne Boonchuy, a 13-year old girl who opens a strange music box and gets transported to a world populated by sentient amphibians. Now stuck there without her friends, Anne gets taken in by a family of frogs who help her to find a way home. However, in doing so, Anne’s new family teaches her the true meaning of friendship and helps her to become a true hero. In other words, it’s a coming-of-age story mixed with western Isekai (otherworld).
To say that Amphibia has some serious talent behind it would be an understatement; everyone working on it is awesome! Firstly, we have the fact that the show’s creator, Matt Braly, is an alumni from Gravity Falls. For better or worse, Gravity Falls has defined Disney cartoons for the last ten years. Secondly, we got the cast of the show itself. Anne Boonchuy’s voiced by none other than Brenda Song. Those who watched Disney Channel in the 2000s will remember her as London Tipton, one of the main characters in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and its sequel, The Suite Life on Deck. In addition, another main character is voiced by Bill Farmer, better known as the voice of Goofy! In other words, this show’s got some clout!
Earlier this year, Amphibia began the second half of its second season, with the show’s team going all out. Week after week, the staff took to social media to promote the show and drive up hype for the season finale, “True Colors,” which they promised would blow everyone’s minds. However, just as the hype-train reached top speed, something terrible happened.
Season Finale Postponed, then Leaked on iTunes
The day was Friday, April 30th. The season finale for Amphibia was set to air the next morning, and hype for the show had never been higher. Then, less than twelve hours before the finale was set to air, Disney dropped this bombshell on Twitter.
In what seemed to be an unprecedented move, Disney postponed the finale at the last minute. Fans of the show quickly took to the Internet to speculate why this was happening, or to express outrage. Theories as to why the finale was put on hold ranged from a Big City Greens marathon to making room for this “halfway to Halloween” event that Disney was doing later that day. No concrete reason was given, though. Worse, Matt Braly and much of his team took to social media to explain that not even they knew about this decision. If the people who worked on the show were left in the dark, then something had to be going on.
Had things ended here, fans may have simply been disappointed but would have no choice but to wait for more news. However, its at this moment that Disney did something truly disrespectful.
Amphibia Season Finale Released on iTunes
On Sunday, May 2nd, people went on to iTunes to discover something unexpected. Despite the finale being postponed until further notice, someone in Disney or on iTunes didn’t seem to get the memo. As a result, “True Colors” came out in its entirety on the platform. And as a result of that, some people began to download it and share it with others. iTunes would realize the mistake it made and removed the finale, but the damage was already done. Many fans had already seen the footage for the finale; to my shame, I am among them. I saw the whole thing from start to finish. However, out of respect for Matt Braly and those who worked on it, I have refused to say anything that would spoil the episode. Other people, though, had no such qualms, and began to just spread it around as much as possible.
I personally do not mind spoilers as much as I should. It’s part of who I am, and I accept that. That said, I understand why many don’t enjoy them. Getting the ending to a story spoiled can ruin the emotional reaction you get from seeing it for the first time. And the fact that people would talk about the finale despite knowing it was leaked? That’s not cool.
#AmphibiaDeservesBetter, Cartoons Deserve Better
As ashamed as I am about having seen the finale before it was officially going to be posted, that is nothing compared to the disgust I feel towards Disney. Their actions are disrespectful on so many levels! By postponing the finale at the last minute, they ruin the weeks of hard work and dedication that the show’s staff put into promoting Amphibia. Essentially, this is Disney telling them that it doesn’t matter how hard they worked on it; they can still do what they want with the end product, which is very demeaning. But then to let it go up on iTunes and thus leak across the Internet? It doesn’t matter if it was a mistake or not; something like that is extremely disrespectful on Disney’s part, both to the fans and to the people who poured everything they had into the episode. Not cool Disney. NOT. COOL!
This isn’t the first time that Disney has screwed over Amphibia, either. When the show first came out in June 2019, Disney chose to forgo a weekly release schedule. Instead, they chose to release the first season over the course of an entire month, with more than four episodes a week. While this is great from a fan’s perspective, it can hurt the show in the long-term by not letting it build up the hype it would otherwise get. In addition, this is bad for the people who worked on the episodes themselves. When they get released in bulk like that, the people who worked on it get less of a chance of standing out with their work. This isn’t just entertainment, after all. Every episode these people worked on serves as a potential reference point on their resume’s. They need them to keep getting work to support themselves.
Not The First Time Disney’s Done This
As horrible as this sounds, this isn’t the first time that Disney has screwed one of its TV shows over, either. In fact, if you go on TV Tropes.Org, you’ll find an entire page dedicated to all the shows that they screwed over throughout the years. Along with ones for Cartoon Network, FOX, Nickelodeon, and Netflix. The fact is, there’s a long history of shows being treated badly by the people who put them out, with Amphibia and Infinity Train being among the latest.
If you want another recent example, though, then look no further than Star vs. The Forces of Evil. It’s a cartoon that premiered back in 2015 on Disney XD that proved fairly popular. After Gravity Falls ended, Disney seemed to make a great deal of effort to make it the new flagship cartoon on the channel. Yet when the time came for its fourth and final season, Disney screwed it over. Firstly, they chose to move it to Disney Channel, which wouldn’t be as bad as it sounds. Then, they chose to air the episodes in bulk for the next two months early every Sunday morning when the target audience would be less likely to watch it. Then when the time came for the series finale, they did very little to promote it, and more importantly, were quick to remove reruns on Disney Channel.
This Disrespect Has to Stop
The fact of the matter is that Amphibia is far from the first cartoon that’s gotten the short end of the stick. Nor will it be the last. However, that doesn’t make it any less wrong. People poured their heart and soul into making these cartoons the best they could be. And for the most part, their efforts have borne fruit. These days, cartoons meant for kids are getting fans across a wide-ranging demographic, proving that cartoons are enjoyed by everyone. Yet Disney can still snap its fingers and treat its shows like this? Legally, they have the right to, but that doesn’t mean they should.
If you’re still not convinced that this is a problem, then imagine this: what if HBO pulled the exact same thing with Game of Thrones? Or Disney tried to do that with The Mandalorian? Fans would metaphorically burn the Internet to the ground. Yet Disney has shown, they can do this to shows like Amphibia whenever they want, and they have no obligation to even tell the people who worked on it why. That’s not fair!
Amphibia Deserves Better
All is not lost, though. In the days and weeks since the news about Amphibia broke, fans and crewmembers from others shows took to social media to show their disgust at Disney as well their solidarity with the crew of Amphibia.
As if seeing Matt’s colleagues stand up for his team despite the risk of getting in trouble isn’t heartwarming enough, many of the show’s actors shared these clips encouraging people not spoil the finale.
Then, this past Saturday, Disney finally came forward with news about “True Colors.”
Given the added warning about potentially scary scenes, it looks like the episode was postponed because some people decided to debate if it was appropriate to air. As I’ve already seen the finale, I can attest that this warning is somewhat justified. However, it doesn’t change the fact that they were wrong to pull it at the last minute or even tell people as to why. They don’t even give Matt and his crew a much-deserved apology. Ergo, a three-hour marathon doesn’t make up for the massive screw-up Disney committed.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Whether it was the result of poor communication or outright incompetence, the fact of the matter is that Disney took one of their most successful airing shows and shot it in the foot. That is not okay, and Disney needs to be called out on it. However, simply criticizing them on the Internet isn’t enough. If we don’t want to see this continue to happen, then there needs to be a dialogue between the creator’s of the shows we watch and the corporations that put them out. No one should be forced to endure this kind of humifaction.
Do you agree with my opinion? What show do you like that feel got unfairly treated? Let us know! Get the conversation going!