How The Proud Family: Louder And Prouder’s Creators Will Keep BeBe’s Autism An Important Part Of The Disney+ Show

Bebe episode, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder
(Image credit: Disney+)

Over fifteen years after The Proud Family became a sitcom staple on the Disney Channel, the series was revived for Disney+ via Louder And Prouder. The franchise has always been applauded for how thoughtful it is with its subject matter, but that's been especially true with this latest series. And there's one particular Season 2 episode that's getting a lot of love: “BeBe," which sees the titular family learning that one of their own has autism. Series co-creators Bruce W. Smith and Ralph Farquhar have since opened up about the story and revealed that they'd like the development to be a key part of the show moving forward.

“BeBe” sees the Prouds finding out that their two-year-old son is on the spectrum after he goes missing at a museum. CinemaBlend attended a virtual Q&A dedicated to the episode, which was held in honor of April’s World Autism Month. During the event, Ralph Farquhar shared the creative team's hopes to keep adding to the character, showing how he develops and interacts with those in his orbit. In Farquhar’s words: 

We’d just like to present it like everyday life. People deal with a lot of stuff, and we want to present this character and progress him emotionally and the rest of the relationships with the family, at the same time we’re a show and we have a lot of fun stuff for BeBe, potentially. That’s what we’re thinking about, hopefully we get to do some more with BeBe and Dr. Laurie. We have a couple of hints in the episode of where we want to go with this character and explore further. We just want to present this character as something that exists in the everyday world. We don’t need to stigmatize people, we just need to treat them one-on-one for who they are and the gifts they have to offer.

There are too few TV characters who are on the spectrum, so it's commendable that the producers of The Proud Family have established one of their own. Since the episode dropped in February, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, as pundits were impressed with the honest depiction. That includes some parents' hesitance to accept their child's status.

On the show, the beloved brood meets Dr. Lord, who gives the diagnosis and has a conversation with Oscar and Trudy Proud about what it means for their child and family. Lord refers them to a school that can help with the adorable child's development. Unfortunately, proud patriarch Oscar remains in denial and refuses to send his child to the academy. However, by the end of the episode, Oscar accepts the situation and ultimately sees and loves his son for who he is. Bruce Smith, who's overseen both shows and is an influential Black animator, shared this about the father/son dynamic: 

This episode gave us the first opportunity to bond Oscar with BeBe. We hadn’t had that opportunity yet and it took this journey with them 50 to 60 odd episodes, but when we got to this scene, we were like ‘We’ve never done this before!’ And, this is Oscar’s only son and I think all those emotions were hitting at that moment.

How To Watch The Episode

The Proud Family; Louder and Prouder Bebe episode, Oscar hug

(Image credit: Disney+)

Series: The Proud Family: Louder And Prouder
Season: 2
Episode: 9, "BeBe"
Synopsis: The Proud family discovers that BeBe is on the autism spectrum
Where To Stream: Disney+ subscription

This episode also featured a devoted parent as part of its cast. Dr. Lord was voiced by Holly Robinson Peete, who has a son with autism and has been vocal about promoting awareness in her work. One of her initiatives is the HollyRod Foundation, which supports those living with autism and Parkinson’s disease. Peete also acted as a consultant for this story and, during the Q&A, she shared that Lord’s words are what she wishes she was told when her child was diagnosed. 

It's encouraging that Louder and Prouder will continue to develop BeBe in meaningful ways, should it get renewed for another season, of course. The show's approach to this matter is one great example of how Hollywood is seeking to destigmatize a disorder that millions of people have. Per the CDC (via Autism Speaks), an estimated 1 in 36 children in the U.S. were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2020. And media representation for said individuals is steadily growing.

Netflix dating show Love On the Spectrum has challenged stereotypes about the community. When it comes to the big-screen fare, the recently released basketball film Champions auditioned hundreds of actors with disabilities for the leading roles. It’s great to see more representation, and it deserves to be celebrated not just during World Autism Month but all year round. And as a fan of The Proud Family, I'm appropriately proud of the creators for helping to lead the charge.

You can stream both seasons of The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, along with the OG show, on Disney+ now. Also, take a look at CinemaBlend's 2023 TV schedule, where you can find more inclusive shows.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.