By Raisa Bruner
June 10, 2016

New storytellers are pushing the classic fairytale narrative into the 21st century by introducing characters who aren’t heteronormative.

In Hulu‘s new animated lesbian fairytale, a four-minute narrated short called Rosaline, a country girl on a walk through the woods subverts pretty much every stereotypical fairytale trope: she evades the cackling witch (and traditional poisoned apple), outsmarts the big bad wolf, and even outwits her bubbly fairy godmother, who just wants to set her up with a prince.

“What’s been done by others won’t decide who I will be,” Rosaline insists. At story’s end, she finds herself happily at the home of her true love: another female character.

The story may be simple, but the twist is revolutionary. Fairytales and cartoons, dominated by the Disney/Pixar industrial juggernaut, almost universally follow a heteronormative hero-meets-damsel-in-distress script. (Think of every princess who needs a prince to kiss her, marry her or protect her from evil.) The damsel-in-distress character appears to be fading as we venture further into the 21st century — as evidenced by films like Let It Go and Tangled — but when it comes to depictions of LGBT affection, the oeuvre is still sorely lacking. All of Disney’s releases in the last year were straight-only, and of Pixar’s 16 previous projects, none featured a gay character, as Variety reported.

Most recently, many people were pleasantly surprised to see what appeared to be a lesbian couple swooning over a baby in the trailer for Pixar’s forthcoming Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory. But early viewings of the film, due out June 17, seem to discount that theory, leaving many to lament yet another missed opportunity.

That’s where independent projects like Rosaline, from children’s book author Daniel Errico, offer a refreshing alternative. The four-minute Hulu short comes on the heels of other small-scale endeavors to present an LGBT-friendly alternative for kids with stories like Promised Land, a Kickstarter-funded children’s book that about a boy who meets (and falls in love with) a prince.

In Rosaline, our heroine rejects the enchantments that her fairy godmother tries to perform and the traditional romance she tries to foist on her. Her happily ever after, though, is just as magical — and much more groundbreaking.

Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com.

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