*This is a user-submitted post by Jordan Hashemi-Briskin*
When you look at the history of Disney animated television, you might notice that the vast majority of the series produced thus far are spin-offs of pre-existing properties. As far as I can tell, production of original content didn’t begin in earnest until sometime in the early 2000’s. For the record, though, I think it’s safe to say that the shows produced during that time are among the most well-made as well as the most beloved by those who grew up with them. Such would be the case with Kim Possible (2002-2007).
The daughter of a brain surgeon and a rocket scientist, Kim Possible has made a career for herself thwarting the schemes of international criminals (most frequently the melodramatic and somewhat inept Dr. Drakken, who somewhat reminds me of Prince John in Disney’s Robin Hood), all while still being able to live the life of an average adolescent American girl. Of course, she doesn’t do so alone; her lifelong best friend Ron Stoppable (as well as his pet naked mole-rat, Rufus) serves as her backup in all her missions, and computer genius Wade Load is there to provide her with leads, contacts, and special equipment.
As with The Proud Family, I didn’t watch Kim Possible during its initial run (although I did see a fair number of comics based on it in the Disney Adventures magazine), but since it was a big presence during that period, I decided I had to see what I had been missing during that time. And I must say, I was quite impressed by how well the creators of the show handled it. For one thing, the writers managed to create complex, engaging story arcs over the course of the series as well as successfully blend the best elements of the spy genre (made famous in such properties as Get Smart, Kojak, James Bond, and MacGyver, to name just a few) into what might otherwise be regarded as a run-of-the-mill teen sitcom, which makes for an interesting angle. (Plenty of self-referential humor helps, too.) I was also surprised by how ahead of its time the technology of the series was, especially when you consider what technology is capable of now. For example, Kim’s hand-held communication device might be described as a sort of ancestor to today’s smartphones.
By far, though, the best part of this show is Kim Possible herself: assertive, intelligent, resourceful, gutsy, and confident (perhaps a bit too much so in some circumstances). She is always willing to go out of her way to help people in need, and she manages to balance her crime-fighting work and her personal life in a surprisingly effective (and downright enviable) manner. Though by her own admission, she finds being an ordinary person much more difficult. More than that, though, she stands as a shining example of a three-dimensional female protagonist. In fact, an online article I read recently observes that her character—and the show, itself—helps redefine gender roles as portrayed in the media, an issue that is perhaps more important now than ever.
As great as that is, however, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that there are a few elements to this program that don’t sit well with me. Most prominently in my mind, Ron Stoppable’s bumbling goofiness is okay in small doses, but sometimes he just barely avoids crossing the fine line between charming and annoying. I get that the sidekick characters provide most of the comic relief, but I would have appreciated it if he were a little less inept and more competent (although I suppose Rufus’ utility in each mission helps to balance things out). In addition, what with the vast majority of the characters being white, I can’t help but feel as though the few characters of color, such as Wade and Monique, were simply added as an example of “token diversity.” (Some of them also border a little too closely on stereotypes for my liking.)
Still, despite such flaws, Kim Possible has a lot going for it. In addition to its well-fleshed-out heroine and commitment to strong storytelling, it’s chock full of thrills and dramatic tension (although the situations devised by the writers could be beyond the bounds of plausibility at times), pays homage to the great spy films and TV shows of old and has more than its share of laugh-aloud moments. I also highly appreciate how it doesn’t just speak exclusively to the youthful demographic; there’s something in this show for adults to enjoy as well.
Overall, Kim Possible is a qualified success with complex and likable characters, well-executed animation, and plenty of action, humor, and heart. It’s hardly surprising to me that it was one of the most popular shows on Disney Channel during its run, and I am so glad that I finally had a chance to see it.
Did you watch Kim Possible growing up? Tell us in the comments below!
Edited by: Kelly Conley