"A child is freer than a king." This line is spoken by King Harrow in season one of The Dragon Prince on Netflix. The show, a computer animated "diverse fantasy," that is actually quite family friendly just dropped its second season. Moms.com got the chance to talk to the show's creators, Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond about season one, what they love about season two and the magical world they've created.
So, just what is The Dragon Prince about? There are two lands: the magical elven land known as Xadia where there are multiple forms of magic that comes from natural sources like the Moon, the Earth, and the Ocean. But the humans only have one form of magic, and it's not so natural — Dark Magic. Naturally this creates a conflict, as the humans have to steal magical creatures to aid in their creation of dark magic. Because of this, the dragons stepped in to keep the humans and elves separated.
But when the humans kill the dragon king and his egg, war between the humans and elves is imminent.
A group of elven assassins prepare to descend upon the human kingdom to murder King Harrow and his young son and heir to the throne Ezran. Ezran and his half-brother Callum are able to escape the assassins. The young heir is able to get out of being killed by showing Rayla, the elf who was sent to kill him that he has found the allegedly lost egg of the dragon king. The three unlikely heroes make the decision to return the egg to the dragons and prevent the war, but they can't get Claudia, a mage (magician) and daughter to the king's advisor or leader of the elf assassins, Runaan to agree that this is the right decision. So the three take it upon themselves to do the right thing.
“So much of this story is about how older generations muck things up,” Aaron Ehasz explains. And it's true. Ezran, who isn't much older than eight years old finds himself embroiled in a war that he had nothing to do with. Even at a young age, he understands that there are ways to prevent the conflict that has arisen by simply returning the egg. Of course that won't fix everything, but it surely is a start.
By placing young people at the heart of the story, Ehasz and Richmond are very aware of the message they're presenting to audiences. Because the show is primarily for children, they are deliberate with their points.
While much of the first season focuses on the three "fugitives" just trying to get the dragon egg safely to its family, season two digs deeper into who they are as individuals. "The kids' role becomes important. It's so much deeper and cooler in season two," Ehasz says. Each of the characters is coming into power in different ways. Rayla is a fighter, and we learn that much of her journey is focused on changing the legacy her parents have left behind. After Callum discovers that he is also a mage, he has to learn how to harness his powers and figure out if using Dark Magic is really what he wants. And sweet young Ezran has to grow up the most. Without giving away too many spoilers, he has to learn how to grow into his own power.
Throughout season two, Ezran is tasked to "use the wisdom in his heart as a child to make decisions a grownup wouldn’t make." Because he is so young, he has the power to make a real change to the way things are done, if only the adults would put their own agendas to the side and give him the space to do so. Much of his motivation, especially in the latter half of the season is to forge his own way. Ehasz explains it as him saying, “I’m gonna be the kid who makes different choices.” Because he understands that the way things have been done so far just aren't working for anyone.
It is clear that the creators of the show take pride in the story they've created. With this kind of subject matter, it is very easy to white wash the entire world, but they have made a conscious effort to have the worlds reflect the people who will be watching. King Harrow is a man of color, and prince Ezran is mixed race, because his mother, Queen Sarai (who has died before the story starts) is white, as is Callum. For young kids of color, seeing a king and prince who look like them is hugely important. And in this day and age, there is no reason it should be the case.
As Justin Richmond explains, in season two, they were able to "do more cool stuff technically." Additionally, there is a "meatier and more significant story" now that the background has been established. Because this is a show for kids, they hope families will watch together and that what happens to the characters "provoke conversations" between kids and their parents about what we do when we're put into high pressure situations.
"[We hope] young people are inspired and empowered to make change," Ehasz says. By seeing a young boy at the center of this story, hopefully other young kids will realize that they don't have to wait until they're older to push the adults around them to make positive changes. And that is the exact kind of message our kids need to be seeing.
Seasons one and two of The Dragon Prince are currently available on Netflix.