Warning: spoilers for The Loud House and The Casagrandes!
Nickelodeon’s animated series The Loud House has quickly become one of my favourite shows, despite only discovering it a few weeks ago. Being the middle child sounds difficult enough, and for eleven-year-old Lincoln Loud those trials and tribulations are worsened by being the only boy… with ten sisters. Inspired by creator Chris Savino’s own childhood growing up with five sisters, the show is set in the fictional suburb of Royal Woods, Michigan and provides a portrayal of said experience that is both entertaining and heartwarming. The four full seasons that have aired since the show’s premiere in 2016 have been met with critical success, so much so that The Loud House has been renewed for a sixth season (the fifth season is currently airing.) A feature film is also in development and is set to be released on Netflix sometime this year. The show has even spawned an equally successful spin-off, starring the supporting characters of the Casagrande Family. As well as the spin-off, the Loud Family have their own podcast (Listen Out Loud) on the Nickelodeon website and YouTube channel.
Lynn Sr. and Rita Loud have their fictional hands full with their eleven troublemakers. Lincoln’s sisters include 17-year-old phone addict Lori; 16-year-old ditzy fashionista Leni, whose character is named after Lenny from Of Mice and Men, 15-year-old rockstar Luna; 14-year-old jokester Luan; 13-year-old superstitious athlete Lynn Jr. (also known as LJ); 8-year-old poetic goth Lucy; 6-year-old identical twins: dirt-loving Lana and aggressive pageant princess Lola; 4-year-old child prodigy Lisa, and adorable 1-year-old Lily. With so many main characters, and a lengthy list of supporting ones, there is a lot to keep track of when watching the show.
One of the show’s star qualities is the variety of genuine representation it has, which all feels incredibly natural. Lincoln’s best friend is Clyde McBride, a young Black boy who has two comically overprotective gay fathers, Harold and Howie, who are also in an interracial relationship. The McBride’s are the first married gay couple to be significantly featured in an animated Nickelodeon series. In addition, Lincoln’s older sister Luna is openly bisexual, and is shown to have a girlfriend named Sam. Lynn Sr.’s best friend, band-mate, and employee is Kotaro, who is Japanese, and Lincoln and Clyde’s group of school friends includes Stella, a young Filipino girl.
Another major example of the show’s diverse representation is the Casagrande Family, the multigenerational Mexican-American family of Bobby and Ronnie Anne Santiago, the boyfriend and friend of Lori and Lincoln, respectively. CJ – the younger cousin of Bobby and Ronnie Anne – has Down’s Syndrome and is voiced by Jared Kozak, who also has Down’s Syndrome. Inclusion of disabled characters in children’s animation, or media in general, is very rare, which makes CJ so wonderful to see. After Bobby, Ronnie Anne, and their mother Maria move from Royal Woods to Great Lakes City, Ronnie Anne befriends Sid Chang, who is half white and half Chinese. People from all walks of life are included in The Loud House and The Casagrandes in a way that feels inherently natural.
The Casagrandes have been extremely successful as supporting characters in The Loud House, even having the first nine episodes of Season 4 focused on their lives in the city. The family also earned their own self-titled TV show in 2019, the first season of which has already aired. Film critic Carlos Aguilar highlighted how the show, powered by Latino writers, subverts long-standing stereotypes while interweaving ‘spiritual aspects of Latino culture with playful storylines that provide insight while entertaining viewers.’ The show’s second season is currently airing, hopefully with more to follow. The Louds feature in a few episodes of The Casagrandes as minor characters also, filling the screen with both families’ antics.
Neither The Loud House nor The Casagrandes make a big show and tell of this representation, and hardly any of these facts are mentioned explicitly. Despite the shows’ animated and fictional natures, the characters just simply exist as their true (albeit fictional) selves, which cultivates a sense of humble authenticity that is both meaningful and greatly appreciated. One of the best examples of this is in The Loud House episode ‘Singled Out’, when Lynn Jr. realises that all of her rollerskating teammates have romantic partners. One of the girls, Laney, casually mentions her girlfriend Alice. Neither of the girls’ sexualities is explicitly mentioned or even explored further, but it is obvious that they are queer. Laney and Alice, who are also an interracial couple, are even shown cosying up to each other and flirting at a restaurant in one scene. Given that they are friends of Lynn Jr., it can be assumed that the girls are around 13-years-old – the same age as LJ. LGBTQ+ representation among adult characters is already extremely limited in children’s shows and is routinely met with dismay – as demonstrated by the controversey surrounding a gay wedding in an episode of Arthur, which was even banned in Alabama because it was deemed ‘inappropriate’ for young viewers. This wider social context of blatant homophobia makes such representation among child characters in a children’s series all the more amazing to see.
The show is hilarious to watch, with main character Lincoln occasionally breaking the fourth wall to provide some context for the audience. The show’s several running gags constitute a large part of its comedy. Lola, who might be my favourite Loud, is mean-spirited and downright maniacal when things don’t go her way. When enraged, Lola is portrayed as being stronger than anyone she fights, no matter the age or size difference, including her eldest sister Lori. Genius Lisa is obsessed with science, to the point that she is scarily fascinated by excrement, so much so that she kept her very first ‘fecal sample’ in the attic, which sounds like a health risk to me. Another running gag is the nauseating behaviour of Lana, Lola’s twin sister. Lana is an absolute beast – she regularly eats the mouldy food she finds around the house and garbage pulled from bins. She is also a major animal lover – to the point that her best friend is a frog named Hops. Lana is also an expert handywoman and has fixed the family car – the affectionately-named ‘Vanzilla’ – on more than one occasion. Ths stark contrast between Lola and Lana alone makes for great television. In addition to those mentioned here, there are several other running gags for both the Loud Family and other characters around Royal Woods that make them all very unique and amusing to watch.
A central theme of the show is of course family and what comes with that – sacrifice, sharing, and teamwork. The Loud siblings tend to act selfishly at first, but upon realising how much their siblings mean to them they have a change of heart. As frustrating as life with ten siblings can be, the Loud children all love each other dearly and will go to ridiculous lengths for one another. The kids even have regular sibling meetings in Lori and Leni’s room to discuss any issues they have and come up with solutions, although this doesn’t always go smoothly. The Loud House is one of the greatest animated children’s series that I have seen in a while. From the diversity of the characters to their comedic quirks, and the heartwarming message each episode provides, The Loud House is a must-watch for anyone that enjoys witty humour, creative hijinks, and absolute pandemonium. For fellow binge-watchers, this series is wildly addictive – somehow I raced through all five seasons in just over a week!
The Loud House is available to stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and NowTV.
The Casagrandes is also available to stream on NowTV.