On Wednesday July 20, 2016, Nickelodeon aired a new episode of The Loud House, titled "Overnight Success." This episode first depicts the married interracial gay couple Howard and Harold McBride, a first in animation history. There have been queer representations in animation for many years, including other youth-oriented programs Clarence, Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, The Legend of Korra, and Adventure Time. This episode of The Loud House is the first to represent a gay-steered family unit that is increasingly part of the landscape of the modern family. Nickelodeon and creator Chris Savino's action honoring diversity and representation in youth television programming is revolutionary, and hopefully points toward a phase of inclusion in all-ages media at large.
Promotional image courtesy of Nickelodeon
Howard and Harold McBride, father of The Loud House supporting character Clyde McBride, were first mentioned in the episode a "Tale of Two Tables" which aired May 6, 2016. In this episode, Clyde mentions his parents as he recalls doing taxes with them. They were also mentioned in the May 16 episode "Hand-Me-Downer," when Clyde notes his parents have a tandem bicycle and enjoy antiques. In "Overnight Success," Howard and Harold deliver Clyde to the Loud house where he plans to sleepover with his best friend, the protagonist Lincoln Loud. Lincoln lives in a home with 10 sisters, and wackiness ensues.
"Overnight Success" title card (image courtesy of The Loud House wiki)
When the espoused McBrides show up to the door of the Loud household they have come prepared with all manner of provisions to help Clyde throughout the night: sleeping bag, feetsy pajamas, white noise machine, humidifier, dehumidifier, earplugs, inhaler, and allergy medication. Instead of focusing on their being gay, their 50 seconds chooses to emphasize the parent's protectiveness of their beloved son. The only slight wink to the landmark television moment is Lincoln speaking with Clyde over walkie-talkie saying, "This is it, time to make history!" When Lincoln greets the family at his door, he simply speaks a friendly greeting "Hey Clyde. Hi Mr. McBride. Hi Mr. McBride."
The family McBride (image courtesy of The Loud House wiki)
After piling Lincoln up with Clyde's supplies, Harold provides Lincoln with a list of contact numbers if he can't reach them by cell phone, concluding with the gas station, "in case we need to pee." Howard thinks this is a good idea too. Now, this was an odd moment to my ears. Was there a subtle implication that two gay men might have other reasons to be found at a gas station bathroom, which was then undercut by the need to urinate? If you don't know what I mean, I'll tell you when you're older.
Howard and Harold McBride (image courtesy of The Loud House wiki)
Howard then concludes introductions by providing a photo of him and Harold because they can't tuck Clyde into bed. Howard then embraces Harold after Harold reminds Clyde of all his allergies, including orange juice: "You know how you get with pulp." The embrace is moved outside as Harold reminds Howard that their doctor encourages them to let go, followed by Howard shouting a tearful "I LOVE HIM SO MUCH!"
(image courtesy of The Loud House wiki)
Harold and Howard, voiced by television comedy alumni Wayne Brady (Whose Line Is It Anyway?) and Michael McDonald (MADtv, the recent Ghostbusters), will be next be seen in the episode "Attention Deficit" on August 3, 2016. I plan to watch! "Overnight Success" reairs this Thursday, July 28, on Nickelodeon at 5/4c.
(image courtesy of The Loud House wiki)
Online response has been largely favorable, with many tweets applauding Nickelodeon and the show's bold move towards inclusiveness and representation. Notably, 10,000,000 Moms has a campaign to take the episode off the air and to discourage Toys 'R' Us from providing Nickelodeon merchandise to its customers, an effort they've tried before. Their efforts have been unsuccessful. What was successful, however, was a move to have the episode removed from the Sub-Saharan Africa division of Nickelodeon's programming. I spoke briefly with show creator Chris Savino, a self-described "straight white male married with three children", about his motivations for depicting the McBride's in this manner. He remarked, "The Loud House is about family and we decided very early that we would try to represent all kinds of modern family."
Did you see "Overnight Success?" What did you think? Will you watch The Loud House and support the series through its first season and beyond? Sound off below!