The All-Time Worst Sofia the First Episode

Before we get started, let me take this opportunity to confirm that yes, this is yet another post about Sofia the First, which is a children’s TV show on the Disney Channel. Just in case the title wasn’t sufficiently self-explanatory. So, if this is not your cup of tea or you feel like it’s beneath you or whatever, feel free to check out now.

OK. Now that you’re all still here, let’s continue.

One of the best things about Sofia, when compared to other kids’ shows, is that it tends to maintain some level of believability in its storylines. Sure, there are talking animals, magic, and flying horses, but within the fairytale setting, the show tackles issues like social anxiety, disagreements between friends, and poor sportsmanship in a way that is not always outlandish. Sure, James does suddenly become a complete jerk for no apparent reason at the tri-kingdom picnic games, but who doesn’t sometimes when there is a trophy on the line. And yes, singing and playing the mandolin is an unlikely cure for childhood shyness, but at least we’re talking about the problem.

So, you can imagine my dismay when a not-so-recent episode called “The Emerald Key” goes completely off the rails. The setup for the episode is basically as follows. The royal family of the Kingdom of Hakalo is on a boat that gets caught in a terrible storm. This always seems to happen to boats in Disney shows and movies. It’s very unfortunate. As the storm rages, a sorceress finds a magical, glowing key (Spoiler Alert: turns out it is The Emerald Key), which was just lying around apparently, and is about to steal it. Stealing the key would allow her to take over the kingdom somehow (we learn this later). A young and intrepid princess, Lani, confronts the sorceress on the stern of the boat and, surprise, they both fall overboard as they struggle for the key.

Sofia, whose family happens to be at a nearby beach, finds the key that washes ashore. Later that night, a girl identifying herself as Princess Lei-Lani arrives at the castle, sufficiently bedraggled. A few minutes later, the real Princess Lani arrives, also sufficiently bedraggled, and mass confusion ensues. It is unclear why the sorceress, who of course converted herself into a Lani clone, decided to use a slightly different name. This decision defies explanation. But, that’s nothing compared to what comes next.

Despite the fact that it is completely transparent from the start that the fake princess is a fraud, the Royal Family of Enchancia, except for Sofia, is completely flummoxed. It is very odd how a 10-year-old village girl is the only one who has the hint of a clue. But alas, Sofia shouldn’t get too much credit because she’s the one who ultimately suggests the completely arbitrary three-stage princess challenge to identify the true princess. Everyone is quick to jump on board with this idea like it’s not completely idiotic. It’s safe to wager that if Steph Curry and Lebron James walked in and The Royal Family was forced to decide which of the two was a better basketball player, they would settle it with a slam dunk contest.

Rough animation of an animation

Rough animation of an animation

In the meantime, Princess Lani keeps imploring them to hurry up and hand over the key because her family is basically drowning at sea. King Roland, however, is not to be deterred. Once he got ahold of the challenge idea, he wasn’t letting go. Not even to save shipwrecked survivors.

I’m not going to delve too far into the details of the fraud of a challenge. It was too dumb. Needless to say, the contestants split the first two challenges. In the first, Lani danced the traditional dance of her homeland in the dance off while the sorceress danced a waltz. The waltz was deemed to be the true dance of royals (racist). Lani won the second challenge when the sorceress turned out to be a complete jerk (surprise!). The final showdown had to be postponed to the next day because of inclement weather. This was quite distressing to Lani because, again, her family was dying.

Of course, the sorceress sabotaged Lani before the last leg of the challenge and ended up winning the competition. Then King Roland was like, “Cool, here’s the key. Glad that’s sorted.” 

Then the sorceress went “Bwahahaha” or something, grabbed the key, and ran off. From here, the story just goes farther and farther off the rails. I think they realize their mistake and eventually make things right. Who cares? We never should’ve gotten to this point anyway!

Quick tip for King Roland: Next time, and every time, listen to Sofia and the rabbit! This simple measure would save you a lot of trouble and humiliation.