Netflix’s Ridley Jones is a colorful children’s show about a girl living in a magical museum where the exhibits come to life at night. Six-year-old Ridley and her assorted friends have been through five seasons of adventures.
In the latest, which came out last week, they face their toughest challenge yet: learning how to come out as nonbinary.
In the show, which is targeted toward preschoolers, “Fred” the bison is reunited with her grandmother and realizes that she hasn’t told her that she now goes by “Fred” instead of “Winifred” and uses “they/them” pronouns.
“The last time I saw my grandma, I used a different name and pronouns. That was before I discovered that ‘Fred’ feels more like me,” Fred says to Ridley. “She still thinks I’m her granddaughter instead of her grand — Fred.”
The episode follows Fred as she struggles to learn how to lead her fellow bison, something she can’t do until she is able to be herself — sorry, “themself” — and tell her grandmother about her new pronouns.
“My heart says that the way I feel most myself is to go by the name Fred,” she eventually explains. “That’s because I’m nonbinary, and Fred is the name that fits me best. And I also use ‘they’ and ‘them’ because calling me a ‘she’ or a ‘he’ doesn’t feel right to me.”
Just like Fred’s friends, who have been repeating platitudes about “being yourself” nonstop, Grandma Dottie is immediately and unequivocally supportive (which we knew she would be because we’ve been told that she “has an open mind and a big heart”).
Grandma Dottie (voiced by Cyndi Lauper in a guest appearance) apologizes for using Fred’s old name and pronouns. “How could you lead the herd without being yourself?” she says. “Thank you for showing me your heart.”
The story is pure propaganda, but don’t take my word for it: Series creator Chris Nee called the episode “a road map for coming out but also for having someone else tell you they’ve changed their pronouns and/or name.”
This all raises a very simple question: What on God’s good earth is Netflix doing promoting gender confusion to 4-year-olds? Perhaps even more insidious than Disney’s woke narratives, which the company tends to brag about, this storyline quietly appeared for any child with a remote to stumble upon. “The Truest You,” a song the bison sing about nonbinary identity, is also streaming on Spotify.
Luckily, Ridley Jones has not been renewed for another season, but there are still a full five seasons available to watch on Netflix. And the gender confusion is there from the get-go. In season one, episode one, Ridley asks, “Is Fred a ‘she’ or a ‘he’?” to which another character responds, “I don’t know. They’re just a Fred.” And a season two episode centers on Fred’s identity when she resists an attempt at a girly makeover and opts to wear a suit instead.
Not that there’s anything wrong with girls wearing suits. But there is something wrong with teaching children that they can, and maybe even should, simply decide one day to change their gender. After all, if creating a new identity is so celebrated, why not do it?
This noxious moralizing is the logical endpoint of decades of “be yourself” and “follow your heart” messaging. Ridley Jones teaches young viewers to lead with what’s “inside” them because “that’s what leaders do.” But we human beings are changing, not static: there is no true inner self. Children who watch popular television today won’t learn that, so when they’re also facing gender ideology in schools, changing genders might seem like the easiest way to develop some sense of identity.
Instead of a message of empowerment, children are left with a broken compass and a charge to pursue an evasive sense of self at all costs — a message that will leave them more confused, and empty, than before.