Meet Vampirina, the Newest Addition to Disney Junior’s Kiddie Line-Up
How this for diversity? Disney Junior’s lineup of girl-power shows—Doc McStuffins, Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, Sofia the First—is a smash hit with preschoolers…but are the little ones ready for a pint-size proactive vampire? The cable channel has gone into production on Vampirina, an animated series set to air in 2017, about an immigrant family of vamps that moves from Transylvania to Pennsylvania. It’s based on the popular book series Vampirina Ballerina and exec produced by Chris Nee, who created the Peabody-winning Doc McStuffins.
“Our main character, Vee [short for Vampirina], who has blue hair and bat-like pigtails, stands for every little kid who ever felt weird growing up,” says Nee. “This is a series that’s all about celebrating our differences, in the spirit of The Munsters and The Addams Family.”
Nee will steer clear of the messier aspects of vampire life—you know, all that bloodsucking, undead stuff—and keep the chills light. “Vee has a little tick where she turns into a bat whenever she’s nervous, and her pet dog does have a problem during the full moon,” the exec says. “We have cute mummies and skeletons and Vee’s sidekicks include a ghost and a gargoyle. The family eats ghoul stew. We use all the fun, spooky things kids love about Halloween, without the gory specifity.”
While other Disney Junior cartoons take place in fantasy worlds or sweet, homey suburbs, Vampirina is set in an urban world of brownstone apartments and crowded streets, an opportunity to “create an entire community of characters that’s full of love and acceptance. We’re in a golden age of kids’ TV and there’s a lot that’s being explored right now, but Vee feels really different and very fresh. Even if she is 400 years old!”