Fans of Disney XD’s Ducktales reboot had another reason to pull out the rainbow flags and pride gear, when fan favorite character Penumbra announced she’s not into men. Ducktales director and storyboard artist Sam King went on Twitter and confirmed that the character’s line was indeed confirming that she’s a lesbian.
Ducktales is a reboot of the classic Disney cartoon about Donald Duck, his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and their various duck friends. In season 2, the crew finds Donald’s sister, Della, trapped on the moon with an alien civilization called the Moonlanders. Now in Season 3, one of those Moonlanders, Penumbra, a guarded and pragmatic lieutenant voiced by Julie Bowen (Modern Family), has come back to earth with the Ducks and is trying to make a home on this planet with her new friends.
Last night’s episode saw Penumbra, or Penny to her friends, continue to struggle to fit in. At one point, Launchpad McQuack (a classic himbo) awkwardly tells her “I’m sorry for the bad date, but you’re really cool, and even if you hate me, I don’t want to have to be your mortal enemy and…” before a confused Penumbra says “What? No! We are not enemies. I just do not wish to date an Earth.. Male.”
After a fan on Twitter asked if the line meant Penumbra is queer, the episode’s writer and director Sam King confirmed it. “Hey yeah! For clarity, I had certain constraints I had to work in to get this across, so believe me I’m the first to say I wish it was more overt,” she said. “But yes, Penny calls everything on Earth “Earth -” her saying “Earth… male” is specifically saying “Men.” She’s a lesbian.”
Penny isn’t the first queer character on the show. In the first episode of Season 3 back in April, we saw young duckling Violet Sabrewing being cheered on by her two dads and adopted sister as she tried to become a Senior Junior Woodchuck. The two dads appeared wearing matching “I’m With Dad” shirts with arrows pointing at each other and had their arms around each other.
When those characters first appeared, co-executive producer and story editor Frank Angones said that the crew didn’t want to take credit for queer representation that was only in the background. “I’m well aware that the ‘queer representation through parents and background characters’ trope is an issue,” he wrote on a Tumblr post.
He also potentially hinted at Penumbra’s story in that post, saying “We do have some themes and ideas coming up that address relevant LGBTQ+ narratives." He even added that “there’s always opportunity for a lot more; I don’t want a cop out and a cookie for saying ‘look at this one thing we did!’”
King also preempted the episode with a few tweets. "There is an aspect of Penumbra that is mentioned that I felt like it was important [to] fight for when I had the power to in this [episode,] but it is not going to be an ongoing plot and I think its only fair to be transparent about that," King wrote in a tweet hours before the episode aired. The comment came after explaining the episode is the character's last "big hurrah." Still, this isn't the end of everything.
“I really appreciate that this means something to people and that so many people were able to catch the intention immediately,” she tweeted, “But I also want to be clear, I want, and we should always continue to ask for, better. Let’s all keep working for more!”