About a week or so ago, I was tasked with watching my eleven year old niece. Luckily enough, my brother had Netflix, so I knew that I had some form of entertainment for her if needed. When I arrived at the house, she was watching a show called Miraculous Ladybug on the TV, and I figured I would sit down with her to enjoy the moment. I found myself becoming increasingly invested in the lives of the characters of this young TV show, as there are many adult themes that can go unnoticed by children, especially in terms of gender norms.
Miraculous Ladybug follows the life of 15 year old Marionette Dupain-Cheng in Paris, France. Marionette is a social butterfly who focuses on branching out and helping others. However Marionette has a crush on a boy in her class by the name of Adrian Agreste. Both Adrian and Marionette are in a love square with each other— Marionette is a young superhero under the name of Ladybug and Adrien is her male counterpart, Cat Noir. Cat Noir has a crush on Ladybug, but not Marionette. Besides the show creators making it painfully obvious that both superheroes are each other’s classmates but remain oblivious of this, there are other forms of subtle humor and character arcs that showcase great examples of gender norms from a young female perspective.
This TV show was created by both a male and female writer— putting both writers on an equal playing field, which feeds into the bond between Ladybug and Cat Noir. Ladybug is the most powerful of any superhero, which was a big step to take in the sense of feminism, especially with a show aimed at such a young audience. The show puts a young inexperienced female in a place of power where she time and time again proves her worth through her myriad of successes. Cat Noir has just one superpower, which is the ability to destroy items and people.
The audience can consistently see Cat Noir (Adrien) chasing after Ladybug and asking her for what the plan of attack is going to be. Typically, society has pushed that men can be the only logical gender whereas women are supposed to follow. This show completely flips that trope on itself and makes Marienette the more logical of the two. Marienette (Ladybug) and Adrien (Cat Noir) are both portrayed as equals, who respect each other and have good intentions.
These key points of the show are critical to a child’s development and understanding of what the world should look like. One superhero does not overshadow the other, they simply compliment each other and have different strengths. Children need to understand that women deserve to have the courtesy of treatment such as Marionette, and that our world is moving closer towards equality for all genders.