There’s something happening with kids’ cartoons. While animated family shows have, in the past, included little winks and nods to the adults looking over their children’s shoulders, we’re seeing a new breed of shows that appeal to parents just as much as they appeal to kids. And with the release on Feb. 10 of Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, that’s never been more apparent. Smart, slick, and vibrant, it’s the kind of series you’ll just keep on watching long after your child leaves the room.
Based on Marvel’s 2015 comic series by the same name, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur tells the story of Lunella Lafayette, a brilliant 13-year-old girl who has a penchant for creating all sorts of things in the secret laboratory she built below her family’s apartment.
One day, during her scientific tinkering, Lunella accidentally summons a 10-ton red Tryannosaurus rex from the past into the present. It’s then the dynamic superhero duo of Moon Girl (aka Lunella) and Devil Dinosaur is born.
Sounds fun, right? It is. But the series has even more to offer that genuinely makes it a must-watch for families. For music-heads like myself and my oldest child, it will be impossible not to get sucked in from the start by the series’ killer soundtrack.
I had the chance to chat about the show with Diamond White, who voices Lunella, and I couldn’t resist asking about the music, given she’s a talented vocal artist.
“I’m actually singing the theme song for the show! And there are a lot of other songs in the show, all executive produced by Raphael Saadiq, which is crazy. He’s incredible,” she says. “Almost every villain on the show has a song, and we like to call it ‘Mixtape Moments’ — when Lunella’s fighting a villain, she’ll break it down to some music.”
Music definitely plays into Lunella’s identity. But it’s the community she loves that really makes her identity sing. There in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, her parents Andria (Sasheer Zamata) and dad James (Jermaine Fowler) own a roller skating rink. A multigenerational household, the family also includes grandmother Mimi (Alfre Woodard) and granddad Pops (Gary Anthony Williams).
As Marvel’s first Black teen superheroine, Lunella fights to protect the culture and community that define her.
When asked how she reacted to the news she was being cast in the role, White shared, “Oh, I was so elated. It’s such an honor, just to know that there’s going to be some more representation for Black girls like me out there.”
What would it have meant for 13-year-old Diamond to see a teen character like this onscreen?
“It would’ve meant everything. Just seeing a skin tone that’s similar to mine, seeing my hair texture, and seeing a character go through things that I have experienced growing up would’ve made me feel not so alone in the world,” she says. “So, I’m happy that this character’s finally coming to life.”
When it comes to portraying those things she experienced as a young Black girl, White emphasizes that the series truly reflects her reality.
“I was able to give the people on the show a list of all the things that I’ve experienced growing up,” she explains, pointing to a storyline about her natural hair as an example. “One of the episodes is about getting my first perm and, well, Lunella’s first perm. Her hair becomes her enemy, played by Jennifer Hudson. That’s one of my favorites.”
That sort of representation for kids is invaluable. So is flipping the script on gender tropes, such as the idea that things like dinosaurs and science are just for boys.
“When I was growing up, I wasn’t into quantum physics. But this show makes it look like a fun thing, and you learn a lot very quickly — especially with the musical numbers,” she says. “I think it’ll make a lot of girls want to get into quantum physics and go into STEM programs.”
And to a parent, that is music to my ears.
Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur premieres February 10 on Disney Channel and February 15 on Disney+.