This animated family fantasy film has been a part of my life since I was in diapers. But now that I have kids, I am watching it with a COMPLETELY different lens. Who would I want to be my friend and who do I want my kids to pick as their friend? Hot take: Sebastian is the better friend.
Sebastian has a long running relationship with King Triton, we all know that there is a mutual respect there for Sebastian’s artistic pursuits as a renowned conductor, but there is little respect for Sebastian in other areas of his service to the King. Sebastian believes in the Monarchy, he is traditional, he is a dedicated and hard working immigrant, he has standing in this Kingdom – he has much to lose, but he is also a soft shell.
This is what I see when I watch Sebastian for my 3,000 viewing:
- He writes music for the Princesses to highlight their individual gifts
- He cares for King Triton’s Kingdom and goes out of his way to serve with his gifts and strengths
- He attempts to influence Ariel to understand and value her present under-water community through song and dance, bringing the whole neighborhood out to express what makes them all special
- He sees Ariel in need and his first instinct is to get her Father involved knowing the history and context of her decisions of which she may not be aware
- When Ariel asks for his confidence, he grants it and takes a step of faith to trust her
- When Ariel makes terrible decision after terrible decision, he goes out of his way to help protect her and make sure she’s safe while still maintaining her agency
- When Ariel goes after Eric and needs a little help, Sebastian sets the mood for love to blossom
- While romancing in the lagoon, Sebastian repeatedly reminds Eric that he must ‘ask’ Ariel her intentions with a thoughtful kiss instead of taking or giving a kiss… the song seems problematic upon the first 2,000 viewings but I’ve come around to recognize that Sebastian ALREADY KNOWS ARIEL’S INTENTIONS and a Kiss will allow them to be together. He has her consent to woo on her behalf AND he still makes sure his lyrics are expressing to Eric that he must ASK her. With the context of the objectives of every character involved, he is a responsible adult helping young love start with romance
- When Ariel’s life is in danger, he drops everything to get her Father (a Magical King) involved to save her life, no messing around when mortality is on the line
- When everything is said and done, he uses his position with King Triton to STILL advocate for Ariel’s happiness
Yes, Flounder is the shy kid who does whatever Ariel wants (as long as he is in water) but can’t keep a secret even when he tries. He’ll even die with/for her, not because he’s brave, but because he’s blindly loyal. But that’s not the type of friend that I want now. And definitely not the friend I want for my kids. I want a Sebastian who recognizes danger, still trusts, and uses his gifts to bring enlightenment, entertainment, or even romance to life. Sebastian is the most loyal member of King Triton’s cabinet (decades of service), he’s a respected conductor, a loving caretaker to the young Princess, and he’s a big-ol’ softy.
Team Sebastian here. Come at me with your retorts at @JennicaRenee on IG.