Critical Comedy Fairy Tale Messages by The Second City

The Advice for Young Girls from a Cartoon Princess series by The Second City Theatre Company offers a critique of the dominant patriarchal messages aimed at young girls. They present a Disney-style princess who speaks from the position of someone who has fully accepted the disempowering messages of Disnefied fairy tales in order to critique them from the inside by making the audience laugh.

These are some comedic skits that let you question the patriarchal messages that girls are experiencing through Disney films. This is definitely a set of short films you will want to pair with any Disney fairy tale viewing…. or if you just want a chuckle.

Second City gives us a chance to explore feminist comedy as a way to question portrayals of the princesses we are told to become.


The Little Mermaid

“My best feature is my voice, so I traded it for plastic surgery.” The opening line pretty much says it all – the little mermaid is a tale of a woman who changes her body for the desires of a man. Ariel tells her audience about her need to conform to a male ideal and that she sacrificed her skills and values for a “fairy tale” idea of love with powerful lines like “Don’t ever talk to a man until he kisses you first on the lips, then, as a woman, you are allowed”. Second City offers a tale of a society where women are constantly faced with pressures to modify their bodies to external ideals.


Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

The Second City’s Belle offers a reminder that there is an abuse narrative underlying the Beauty and the Beast tale: “Desire is when a man wants you so much that he is willing to yell at you and beat down your door and tell you that if you don’t eat with him, you don’t eat at all”. Belle gives us a chance to question how desire narratives tend to construct love as an act of violence and tend to encourage women to view violence as an expression of caring. Belle’s tale is one of isolation, a key feature in an abuse narrative. And remember, as Belle says “The longer that you are trapped with the same person, the more it will seem like home… Stockholm.”


Snow White

“Cook, clean, men”, Second City’s Snow White is a commentary on reducing women to their domestic potential in the Disneyfied Snow White narrative…. with a little bit of commentary about the ageism in Fairy Tales “Older women, when they are ugly, are very trustworthy, but when they are pretty, watch out – they are evil!”. This Snow White reveals a life shaped by jealousy and presents a critique of the image that all women should be turned against one another.


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