Earlier this week, the highly anticipated Black Powerpuff Girl, Bliss was introduced in a special episode on Cartoon Network called Power of Four and many of us were left with a bad taste in our mouths.
Publications across the web, including us, chimed in on a recap of the episode for the adults out there who don’t typically watch the children’s show. Many of us grew up watching Powerpuff Girls and therefore felt invested when such a change as a new 4th member (sorry Bunny) was introduced. Unfortunately, the backstory for the new addition of Bliss to the family left much to be desired for most.
Whenever a Black character or any minority character is released to the masses, it is automatically scrutinized by the community that it is supposed to represent.
This is completely understandable, as many people of color in America feel that we have to represent our whole community, as many have experienced being the only melanated body in the room on several occasions.
We expect the same for characters on television and in movies since Hollywood has historically loved making people of color the butt of every joke or only telling the narrative of “the black person from the hood”. This is part of the reason that the movie, Dope wasn’t as well received as it could’ve been, because we are tired of the “down-and-out-Black-person-who-overcomes-adversity” narrative. The same could be said with the initial reactions to Luke Cage.
Let’s take a closer look at Bliss, though. Is her story really that bad? Excuse us, as we are going to play devil’s advocate here. We asked on Instagram what people thought about the new Powerpuff Girl’s story and the main concerns were her “daddy issues”, her attitude problem, her curvy body, and the fact that she lived on Bird Poop Island.
Before we dive into these issues, we have to remind everyone of one thing: this is a children’s show…it wasn’t made for us.
We have to remind people of this because a lot of us are approaching this episode of the show with adult eyes that have been through adult experiences and know adult intentions. Whenever, we envision superhero-like women of color on TV, we think about Olivia Pope, Molly from Insecure (before the Dro drama) and basically any role that Gabrielle Union has ever played. That’s the new standard and there’s nothing wrong with that (actually, networks, take notes so that we can have more of these characters).
As adults looking at a children’s show with adult eyes, we forget how awkward, imperfect and emotionally unstable we were growing up, especially as teenagers.
As a teenager, do you really want to see a perfect teen-aged character on TV who has their lives all figured out, while you are potentially getting teased and judged everyday that you go to school? Think about how awkward and down-and-out the main characters were in Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide , Lizzie McGuire and My Life As A Teenage Robot, as well as how the more perfect classmates were seen as unrelatable and “the enemy”.
So back to Bliss. Let’s break down her story:
The Daddy Issues
Bliss’s problem isn’t that she has daddy issues, it’s that she is now a part of a blended family. When the professor first talks about Bliss (or more correctly, Blisstina Francesca Francia Mariam Alicia Utonium), he calls her “the perfect little girl” and talks about the amazing relationship that they had. It comes up that he had been trying for a while to create Bliss, since he had spilled 22 other chemicals in other previous batches of sugar, spice and everything nice, so he was excited to finally have Bliss.
Though, Bliss is 10 years older than the Powerpuff Girls that we know, which means that Professor Utonium was 10 years less of an experienced parent and adult when he had her. I’m sure that many people out there who had children young or anyone with their first child of any age can testify that being a first-time parent is hard. You make lots of mistakes. Therefore, a young parent with a child that shows emotional instability is probably overwhelmed about the best way to handle the situation.
The Professor of Bliss’s younger years just allowed her to have her emotional outbursts and destroy the house. The Professor of today would have probably known how to discipline her or would be able to make something in his lab to help her out. Also, for those who haven’t seen the episode, the Professor didn’t just abandon Bliss. After Bliss blew up the house from an emotional episode, it knocked the Professor unconscious and Bliss left for Bird Poop Island. When the Professor came back, he saw her ribbon in the ashes and “thought the worst had happened”.
Let’t talk about blended families for a second. In 2017, it’s not uncommon for children to find out that they have an older sibling that doesn’t live in their same household and it’s not just a Black thing either. With every blended family comes an adjustment period, both for the children and for the parents. Several shows on children’s networks are finally touching on blended and complicated family situations, including the highly-acclaimed Disney show, Andi Mack, where the Asian American main character finds out that her sister is really her mother.
The Attitude Problem
When we first watched the episode, our first thoughts were probably just like yours: “Really though, the only current POC on the show can’t handle her emotions?” After taking off our scrutinizing glasses, however, we were able to see Bliss’s personality in a different light. Bliss is obviously dealing with anxiety. With mental health finally becoming more acceptable to talk about within the POC community, it’s not a bad thing to have a superhero that is working through this condition. The world is a lot, especially for a teenage girl of color. There is a good chance that if you are a teenager, you are trying to find where you fit into life and are being misunderstood along that way. As adults, we learn how to channel these emotions, instead of exploding, which Bliss is finally able to do at the end of the episode.
As for being born with attitude, this isn’t really the case. You see several clips of her being “the perfect little girl” but as she gets older she starts to throw tantrums. Otherwise, she is well-behaved and sweet. This is even the case whenever she discovers that the Professor has new children. She could have easily been jealous and exploded, but that wasn’t the case. Plus, if you want to see real attitude, let me introduce you to Buttercup…
If you think that Bliss’s teenage body is inappropriate, you must have forgotten about Miss Bellum (she’s been written out of the new series) as well as the episode where the PPGs were cuvy, midriff-showing, bratty teenagers. One thing that would have been nice is if they gave Bliss afro-textured hair, similar to Miss Bellum’s hair.
Bird Poop Island
So Bird Poop Island definitely isn’t where we’d want any character that we loved spending any of their time, especially if they look like you. We are going to assume that this was supposed to be a bit of comic relief, but it is still not the most comfortable place for the network to put itself in.
One thing that can be said is that this is a hilariously accurate metaphor for people of color in America, especially immigrants, that I’m sure the network didn’t intend. Fleeing to find solitude from your homeland struggles and ending up on a shitty island with life shitting on you with a new pile of shit everywhere you turn. Yet somehow, we find enough strength to make the best out of the shitty situation and thrive.
While some people may still disagree with the points made in this article, that’s okay. While it is human nature in our current society to look for the controversy in new things, it is also important to hear opposing thoughts and to make your own opinions.