Something that I think people vastly overlook in The Princess and the Frog is the friendship between Tiana and Charlotte. It may be only a small part in the film, but in the scheme of Disney movies, this is a revolutionary element.
If you trace the history of all of the other Disney princesses - Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Pocahontas, Jasmine, Rapunzel - no other princess is shown as having a female friend. Some may have mother figures such as Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas or the various fairy godmothers, and Ariel has sisters, but the princesses rarely interact with other women as friends. The Princess and the Frog is the only Disney princess film that actually shows women being friends with each other.
Charlotte and Tiana were pals since childhood, and not once did we see Charlotte ever do anything but be a good friend, not falling into any pitfalls of petty friendships or letting class differences affect their relatiojship. When Tiana is trying to earn money on her own? Charlotte hires her knowing that it will help Tiana’s goal. When Tiana fell at Charlotte’s ball and much of the desserts were ruined? Charlotte didn’t care about the food, her number one concern was to make sure Tiana was alright. And when Charlotte learns that Tiana loved Prince Naveen? Charlotte didn’t even flinch; she was willing to forgo her own aspirations of being a princess because she cares about Tiana’s happiness more.
I think this aspect of the film is what in my mind, separates it from other Disney princess movies. It deserve a lot more credit for being the only princess film that actually shows women being friends with each other, helping each other, and caring about each other.
The Princess and the Frog shows a better female friendship than a lot of movies, even outside of princess or animated films. It was really one of my favourite bits of the movie and to say that it avoids the pitfalls is so true. At numerous points when I first watched I was thinking, “Here is where Charlotte reveals her true nature” because how often in movies do girls or women get to just be good friends? I mean, all friends have petty disputes sometimes, but it seems to be unavoidable in most female friendships in media (especially when it comes to romance). So this movie was a really welcome change.
Yep. Also, I find it interesting how modern re-tellings of fairytales have to essentially turn the stories on their heads so that they can have the loveable and familiar fairy-tale style, without being jarringly sexist and backward. The female characters of modern fairy tales are driven women with goals. Tiana is a very hard working woman with a vision. She doesn’t find her prince charming and live happily ever after off the back of his unearned princely income, as the character would have in days of old. He has the princely charm and ways but is in even greater financial struggles than she is. She is no kept woman.