The premiere of Disney Junior’s “Sofia The First” made television history with the news that it ranked as the No.1 preschool cable launch in cable TV history during its Friday premiere.
The Disney Channel show was ranked as the No. 1 preschool series launch among girls (2-5), adults (18-49) and women (18-49), reports Deadline.
The premiere of “Sofia The First” follows the debut of animated feature film “Sofia The First: Once Upon A Princess” on the Disney Channel in November.
More than 5.2 million viewers tuned into the made-for-television movie, making it the top cable telecast of 2012 among kids 2-5 and girls age 2-5.
“We’re delighted with the early results for ‘Sofia the First,’” said Nancy Kanter, senior vice president of original programming and general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide. “We had a tremendous response to the movie and it’s clear the series is on its way to achieving our goal of making a strong emotional connection with our audience of young viewers and their parents and caregivers.”
The show – aimed towards viewers age 2-7 – generated controversy about Latino identity last fall when an executive producer for the project announced that fair-skinned, blue-eyed Sofia was the first Latina princess to appear in an animated Disney feature.
“She is Latina,” said executive producer Jamie Mitchell said during a press tour for the made-for-TV movie.
Hispanic advocacy groups and parents ignited fiercely opinionated discussion about the character, engaging in conversation about whether or not Sofia was representative of the Latino community.
“I have to say I’m really disappointed,” Roachele Negron, mother to elementary-school aged twins, told NBC Latino. “She doesn’t look like the majority of Latinas in the world.”
Other moms, like Jeannette Kaplun, argued that Hispanics “come in all colors and sizes.”
“It’s hard to say how darker your skin or your eyes need to be to appear more Latina or Hispanic,” said Kaplun. “My son has dark hair and blue eyes, my daughter has light brown hair and hazel eyes, while I have brown eyes and blonde hair. Am I the most Hispanic of my family because my eyes are darker?”
Marcela Davison Aviles, president of the Mexican Heritage Corporation, told the Associated Press that calling Sofia a Hispanic princess is “not an accurate use of the term as many in our community understand its meaning.”
Disney later announced in October that Sofia wasn’t actually Latina, describing the character on its Princess Sofia Facebook page as a “a mixed-heritage princess in a fairy-tale world. Her mother is originally from an enchanted kingdom inspired by Spain (Galdiz) and her birth father hailed from an enchanted kingdom inspired by Scandinavia.”
“What’s important to know is that Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world,” Kanter said in a statement. “All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures.”
The character of Sofia – which has spawned an interactive children’s website, a line of toys, accessories, clothing and books – was voiced by “Modern Family” actress Ariel Winters.
Hispanic actress Sara Ramirez, best known to audiences from “Grey’s Anatomy” gave life to the character of Queen Miranda – Sofia’s mother – in the animated film.