She's baaaaaack. Kim Possible fans are all a-Twitter today in the wake of the show airing, once again, on Disney XD. The Disney Channel Original series ran from June 7, 2002 to September 7, 2007, and it now plays on weekdays, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (Those who are interested can find the latest Kim Possible scheduling updates here.) As for Twitter, people are generally feeling really positive about watching this heroine take on evil once again, naked mole rat Rufus and slow-moving Ron Stoppable at her side. But what, then, makes Kim Possible so special to these people?
Let's take a walk down memory lane with with Twitter fans, and explore why Kim has resurfaced once again.
First, Kim offers a model for femininity that both bolsters and works against the typical "high school cheerleader" stereotype. Her commitment to action is notable, even if she never wears a shirt longer than mid-lung, and she fights crime in her cheerleader uniform when she needs to. In the early 2000s, as Limited Too dominated the tween fashion scene, it was refreshing to see a girl decked out in functional black and army green attire. Though she bared her midriff, she at least didn't bedazzle her shirts with enough rhinestones to choke a small horse.
In addition, Kim's family breaks the all-too-familiar cartoon archetype of Family Guy and The Simpsons, in which the mother is inordinately attractive compared to the boorish, morbidly obese father. Kim's mother is a brain surgeon and her father is a rocket scientist, and they are both attractive. When re-watching the first episode, it put me at ease seeing how the show's creators set her up to succeed genetically and socially. Both nature and nurture are accounted for here, as she sits down to a democratic conversation with her parents in which they basically tell her, "You have to serve detention too, because you're no better than any other kid."
Even if she does later fly off to South America to come to the aid of an entomologist, she has a balanced home life with parents who are funny, intelligent people. Kim doesn't have to bear the burden of being the only brain on the show.
The brain burden, or lack thereof, brings us to none other than Ron Stoppable. Ever since When Harry Met Sally, and even before, the entertainment industry has been playing with the trope of male and female friendship. Is it possible to sustain a relationship that doesn't ultimately ramp up into full-fledged dating? While the two do fall victim to this inexorable plot push, it is valuable to watch them working together as a team without any over-the-top teenage hormones during the first season. Also, Kim holds the functional and social power, while Ron exerts more of a calming, occasionally slapstick influence on the show. In a sense, he is the Joker to her Batman; he is the intelligent, kind chaos in her highly-organized life.
It's hard to imagine the show without him, and perhaps the creators sensed that television would only be able to accept a strong female character if she had a male counterpart, however inept. As Tina Fey stated in her return to the SNL Weekend Update desk in 2008, "Bitches get stuff done." If anyone was nervous that Kim would be perceived as a "bitch," Ron takes the edge off her potentially alienating demeanor. He is the everyman of the show, and his presence taught millions of teenage or preteen boys that smart, active, sarcastic girls could also be approachable and friendly.
Ultimately, Kim Possible was just a solid show. It didn't skimp on plot or dialogue in favor of Wile E. Coyote explosions, and its tongue-in-cheek humor allowed it to be self-aware and hip at the same time. It was and is a manifestation of third wave feminism in that it ties femininity to power and agency. Kim isn't forced to be a cheerleader: she chooses it as an outlet for her identity, just as she chooses to fight crime across the world in the company of a friend (yes, a male friend) who complements rather than dominates her actions.
Twitter fans may not be relating specifically or consciously to these aspects of the show, but there is nonetheless a generation of twenty-somethings whose ears perk up when they hear "Call Me, Beep Me." Kim Possible is for girls who want to grow up to be her, and more.