During the 2000s, The Proud Family emerged as one of the most popular shows on Disney Channel. One of the few animated sitcoms to put African American characters front and center, the series became a favorite amongst both kids and adults. So it was pretty surprising when the show went off the air after only a few years. Thankfully, it’s since returned in the form of the revival, Louder and Prouder (which can be streamed with a Disney+ subscription). But before that show got the greenlight from the House of Mouse, the producers pitched a live-action version of the beloved show, and it sounds wild.
Let’s be honest, The Proud Family’s format definitely matches up with the motif that’s usually associated with live-action, multi-camera (or single-camera) comedies. So it wasn’t too surprising when I spoke with producers Ralph Farquhar and Bruce W. Smith, and they told me they’d pitched ideas for such a production. However, the two honestly threw me for a loop when they revealed one specific idea. Farquhar explained that they weren’t just looking to make a straight-forward sitcom - they wanted to inject some aspects of animation into it as well:
Well, to be perfectly honest, when we first went off [the air], we felt like, ‘Why are we off?’ So Bruce and I were pitching every year since 2005, up until we got picked up [for Louder and Prouder], and we pitched live-action, we pitched live-action and animation, we pitched a whole bunch of things. So Proud Family could, I think, obviously really work as a live-action show. But one thing I was personally always enamored with was the whole notion of having live-action characters that did squash and stretch, you know?
I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear those sentiments from Ralph Farquhar, who’s produced and written for plenty of notable shows like Happy Days, Moesha, and Real Husbands of Hollywood. Given his experience, I would’ve assumed that he’d have thought up a show that’s a bit more traditional – and keeps up The Proud Family’s tradition of welcoming big guest stars. But then again, the fact that he’s done it all could be a major reason why he wanted to try something that’s a bit more unconventional. It may be a kooky idea, but it’s a tantalizing one as well. The notion of an actor playing Oscar Proud in a live setting and still getting crushed and stretched like his cartoon counterpart is funny.
Of course, there are some practical factors that would need to be considered if the project was to materialize. Bruce W. Smith added that it would be challenging to find actors who would possess the distinct attributes of some of the characters. Some of their features really lend themselves to animation, and there’s one particular member of the cast that Smith used to illustrate that important point:
You can’t have Zoey if you don’t have those long skinny legs, you know? Where do you go to cast that person? What country do you go to to cast that person? [Laughs] But I agree, there's a wild hybrid that could be very interesting.
If anyone could figure out the logistics, it would probably be these two. They’ve proven to be incredibly cerebral as evidenced by the fact that they took some big BTS notes for Louder and Prouder into consideration ahead of Season 2. I sincerely hope we get to see a live-action Proud Family production some day. But if we don’t, I’ll remain content, considering the shows they’ve already delivered easily stand alongside the great Black sitcoms from the past few decades just the way they are now.
The second season of The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder is now streaming alongside other great titles on Disney+ this February. You can also check out CinemaBlend’s 2023 TV schedule for information on shows that are premiering and returning this year.