Rewriting Destiny: Compulsory Heterosexuality and Apple White

Ever After High is, first and foremost, a doll line sold by Mattel themed around fairy tales, but it has a Netflix distributed cartoon that gives all the characters story and context. The basic structure of the story is that all the children of fairy tale characters you know go to highschool so they can learn to take their parents place in the stories one day, and that their parents too filled their roles in destiny and acted out those stories. The main conflict arises when the daughter of Snow White’s Evil Queen concludes she doesn’t want to be evil or hurt people, and she isn’t satisfied with the miserable ending her story has, and instead chooses to reject her destiny, putting everyone’s stories in jeopardy because if the evil queen isn’t there to do things like poison the apple, then Snow White’s daughter, Apple White, will never fall asleep, never be woken by her Prince Charming, and never live happily ever after.

Apple White is one of the two main characters of this series, besides Raven, the daughter of the evil queen, and tries to befriend Raven in the interest of convincing her to be evil so she can get her happy ending. This narrative really takes off in season three, when Apple accidentally frees the original Evil Queen from her mirror prison, and begins becoming entrapped by her own lies and fear, attempting to retain her image as a good and noble person, the innocent hero of her story who would never do anything terrible, like free the evil queen or conspire to force her roommate to be evil. Apple struggles with her inner turmoil and self image, and finally the truth is revealed and she is confronted by Raven, who feels utterly betrayed, and Apple loses the confidence of all her friends. She finally flees the evil queen when she inevitably takes control of the kingdom and the school, enslaving the teachers and parents and Apple finds Raven and the other rebels hiding in the forest, and she apologizes and agrees to stop trying to make Raven be someone she isn’t.

With their interpersonal issues resolved, Apple is finally happy to be accepted by her friends and to be happy with herself again, only to be betrayed by the evil queen and accidentally eat a poisoned apple she was slipped earlier. She collapses into her fairy tale eternal sleep, and everyone knows there’s only one thing that can awaken her: her true love’s kiss!

Over the course of the series, though, Apple has asserted that her and Daring Charming, who is her fated prince charming, have plenty of time in their happily ever after to be together, which is why they aren’t dating now- but in addition to that, she also doesn’t date any of the other boys at school. Despite this, it’s a complete surprise when Daring steps up, ready to fulfill his destiny, kisses her, and nothing happens.

In despair, her friends hold a funeral, thinking she will sleep forever. Daring’s sister, Darling Charming, is especially upset, having been close to Apple. Darling’s destiny is to be the damsel in distress, however, it’s not the destiny she wanted. She spends her time disguised as a knight in shining armour, rescuing others in secret, because she’s always truly wanted to be the hero, but been terrified to come forward and say so openly.

During the funeral, Apple begins to choke in her sleep, and everyone panics in a frenzy, unsure what to do or how to help. The camera zooms into Darling, just as panicked, before a moment of clarity washes over her, and she scrambles up to where Apple is laying, and performs CPR.

There’s a flash of light as their lips touch, and Apple awakens, confused and disoriented.

I watched this show at four in the morning, working on an art project, and I was utterly flabbergasted. No one had ever mentioned to me this show had lgbt characters, and yet, here we were, with, apparently, Apple White’s destined true love a girl. It was a moment of bliss for me- the opportunity to watch a show that you’re enjoying, to grow to care about a character and have it revealed they’re like you in a stunning awesome moment you didn’t already know about is so rare when you’re lgbt. It’s easy to fall into a rhythm of your friends recommending you new shows with “and hey, there’s lesbians!” or “at the end of this game, you find out one of the characters is trans!”

Apple’s character arc, specifically, centered around the concept of compulsory heterosexuality. You see, when you’re raised in a society that uplifts heterosexual values above anything else, people come to the conclusion that heterosexuality is the default. Many lgbt people grow up assuming they’re straight, and many people even have heterosexual relationships because it’s what they believe they should be doing. In Ever After High, Apple is told that her destiny is to marry her prince charming and live happily ever after and she believes that simply must be true, even though she has no feelings for him. It isn’t until she has this experience with Darling that she realizes her largely neutral feelings for men aren’t the typical experience of her heterosexual peers, and she realizes that he isn’t her prince charming and never was always gay, even when she thought she wasn’t, even when she believed she was attracted to men, even when she had a boyfriend, she was still gay, and simply hadn’t realized it yet. It’s a powerful message for young girls watching the show that may themselves unknowingly struggle with compulsory heterosexuality. Apple and Darling both had such stunning and engaging character arcs, and season three of Ever After High was so exciting and action packed it made the entire thing memorable ever after.

About Nate Schoonover 19 Articles
Everyone's favourite art loving, toy collecting nonbinary idiot.