My Pride by Maddi Patton (2020)

Watch the trailer here.

Do you like sapient, talking lions? How about fantasy worlds with magic, lore, mystery, and plot twists? And how about gay lovers toppling the patriarchy? Well, look no further than My Pride!

My Pride is an animated web series funded by the Canadian Independent Production Fund and directed by Maddi Patton. Patton is known on YouTube as tribbleofdoom (“Tribbs”) and is well-known for her previous work on animating Into the Wild and creating the original series Cow of the Wild. Now, Tribbs is back from college, equipped with professional funding and an outstanding crew, and ready to kill off half her characters!

My Pride Trailer by Maddi Patton

The series follows a young lioness named Nothing, who lives in a pride but keeps having mysterious dreams about a majestic waterfall in the jungle and a mysterious white lion (And no, it’s not that kind of dream.). Why is the main character given such an odd name? According to Pride Law, which every lion pride in the world must follow, a lioness is named after her most useful hunting skills. Nothing was permanently injured as a cub when a new male named Quickmane (aka DepthPerceptionMane) killed her father to take over the pride, which means that she excels at, well, nothing. An uneasy truce keeps Nothing safe from DepthPerceptionMane’s desire to kill off the previous male’s cubs, and she grows into an adult. The plot begins when she meets a prideless lioness named Hover and develops a close bond with her, but things really get rolling when another male named Proud defeats DepthPerceptionMane to take over the pride. With no truce to protect her and no hunting skills to make her valuable, Nothing is cast out of the pride, forced to wander the deserts without anyone to help feed her. Not only that, but she’s managed to save a cub from Proud’s wrath, and she needs to provide for him, as well.

To be honest, I was going to watch this series to the bitter end no matter what, since I was a huge fan of Cow of the Wild growing up (Note: if you’re going to check COTW out, the first four episodes are a very low production value, so you might want to skip to episode 5 when the characters are adults.). But I was absolutely thrilled by the surprises that Tribbs had in store for us. It will be difficult to talk about the series without major spoilers, so I’ll have a short section up front with vague comments, followed by a spoiler section with all my dotings and rants.

Spoiler-Free Zone:

Talking about My Pride is sort of like talking about The Good Place or Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: the real meat of the plot is behind about four layers of plot twists, and it’s difficult to talk about the beginning episodes because the plot twists make you see those episodes in a completely different light. But I will do my best here.

My Pride Episode 3 my Maddi Patton

Favorites:

  • I genuinely ship the main love interests, because they are adorable, relatable, and funny.
  • Characters keep dying and I have absolutely no idea what’s about to happen next. The plot never feels like it’s going off the rails, but it also never feels like the track is going in a predictable direction.
  • I keep forgetting that these characters aren’t real, that they’re figments of talented animation and stupendous voice acting.
  • Two of the lions have a lot of, shall we say, “pride”? 😉

Peeves:

This is where things get a little hairy (Or should I say “furry”?), because similar to The Good Place and Kipo, what at first seems like a caveat quickly turns into a plot twist. For instance, before episode 8, I disliked:

  • The inaccuracies with lion behavior
  • Nothing refusing to abandon Feather
  • Feather
  • The lore seeming simplistic/typical, with “the power of love” and a 100% evil villain and three elements and all that
My Pride Episode 1 by Maddi Patton

These peeves have now turned into favorites, and I’ll go into why in the spoiler section. For now, let’s cover some of the peeves I still have:

  • There aren’t enough episodes. Yes, I know this is like saying that your greatest weakness is “working too hard” in an interview, but it still stands. There is an episode once a month, meaning that sometimes it’s difficult to remember past events in the story (and character names) unless you binge, and the addiction between episodes can wear off in between premiers.
  • The characters’ dialogue isn’t fully animated. Their mouths open, but their lips don’t form words. I tend to get used to this after a few minutes, but it’s still a little distracting.

Overall:

Do I recommend this? Highly, so long as you can handle a bit more drama in your life. The episodes always open up with trigger warnings (ex. gore, homophobia, able-ism, etc.), and boy are they warranted. I only caught up on the show yesterday because 2020 had burned me out on stress to the point where I couldn’t handle what Tribbs was putting in the show. Apart from that, the reason I keep comparing My Pride to Kipo is because it’s just as addictive and deft.

Spoiler Zone:

My Pride Episode 8 by Maddi Patton

Snape kills Dumbledore, Rosebud is the sled, and Nothing is the reincarnation of a different lesbian lioness destined to kill her homophobic ex over and over again for all of eternity. The usual fare.

So let’s go over the peeves in the spoiler-free section and why I no longer find them to be peeves:

  • It turns out that Pride Law was created by a lion named Lite (who ruled one of the three ancient kingdoms) out of spite for the lioness who left him for another lioness. Pride Law isn’t necessarily meant to reflect irl lion behavior, but instead reflects the mind of a powerful homophobe/sexist who couldn’t admit defeat. It’s implied that Nothing will eventually be the one to topple Pride Law, so we’ll see just how far we can go into not-real-lion-social-structure territory.
  • Nothing refuses to abandon Feather in the desert when a kind stranger named Rain tells her he’s dead weight and she can’t feed them both. At first, I rolled my eyes and thought, “I’d save my own skin, even if no protagonist ever does.” Then, it turned out that Rain was actually the goddess Cansu, who was just testing Nothing to see if she could really be the one to find a missing goddess and topple the entire world order. Yeah, I guess you’d want to pick someone empathetic for that.
  • I now have a headcanon that Feather is the incarnation of Lite that Nothing is destined to kill. Why? First, Lite’s incarnations are always supposed to suffer, and the only other male lion suffering is Fire. Second, because of the weird subplot where Feather says he loves Nothing and Nothing doesn’t say it back. Third, making Feather into Nothing’s mortal enemy would be the single best way to make the audience cry. At the very least, Feather’s a bit less annoying now that he’s starting suffering, and I really loved the scene where he dramatically swore to end pride law.
  • Well, it turns out that Lite made up the lore to make himself look good and his enemies look evil. That checks out.

Another spoiler I’ve been heavily hinting at is the love between Nothing and Hover. I was extremely pleasantly surprised when I found out this was a lesbian love story, because despite all the ones Cartoon Network and Netflix are throwing my way, I still need more. It also makes another small detail make sense: my Google is in Spanish, so YouTube videos are recommended to me with Spanish titles where applicable. YouTube recommends half of the My Pride episodes to me as “Mi Orgullo” instead of “Mi Manada.” Manada means herd or pride or pack in the sense of multiple animals, but orgullo means pride as in “Proud to be an American.” It’s possible that this is just a Google Translate error, but it’s also a neat possibility that Nothing is searching for pride as in the feeling, not searching for a pride to live in.

That being said, some of my favorites and peeves are now up in the air. For example, on the one hand, we’re presented with a situation where Big Bad Evil Guy (Lite) becomes BBEG for completely understandable reasons. He’d been raised since birth to love a particular lioness, only to find out that she doesn’t want to tap that. You can see the cognitive dissonance in his eyes as he tries to figure out a way to keep his heart and self-esteem intact while still coping with the reality of the situation. This is the sort of mental struggle that feels very real. However, one major issue I’ve taken with a lot of recent villains is that they tend to become abusers due to having another abuser (which is realistic) only to have the buck stop there (not explaining why the abuser’s abuser is abusive). It’s a situation where Darth Vader is abused by the Emperor, and so Vader gets redemption and the Emperor doesn’t. But we never get an explanation as to why the Emperor is evil, or a redemption arc for him. We got that in Steven Universe, multiple times in She-Ra, and we might have that here with Sunce, the sun goddess. It seems that Sunce goes into fits of rage quite often: murdering Azara’s mortal lover, forcing Lite into an arranged marriage, and then slowly burning the entire planet because of the whole Lite-Karabi-Kyoga fiasco. So if Sunce’s arranged marriage turned Lite into a bitch, then what made Sunce such a bitch? The buck has to stop somewhere, but hopefully it doesn’t stop with just one person/goddess/lionness who doesn’t get the benefit of a backstory.

My Pride Episode 6 by Maddi Patton

Conclusion

My Pride helps return my faith in original YouTube content and the creative abilities of independent writers. I highly recommend it to anyone who can stomach consuming any more stressful media. It does deal with the same political issues a lot of us are going through right now. But it also has magic, lore, action, and romance, which are things a lot of us aren’t getting quite enough of right now. I look forward to seeing where the series goes after its winter hiatus, and I hope you all can enjoy bingeing it just as much as I did.


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