Who knew Freeform was capable of such an epic dressing down? In the wake of the news that Halle Bailey would be playing mermaid Ariel in an upcoming live-action movie, a surprising source is defending the casting choice against haters. Freeform's response to The Little Mermaid backlash, namely racist comments regarding Bailey in the role, goes on a journey and Twitter was here for it.
On Saturday, July 6, Freeform tweeted, "An open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls:#TheLittleMermaid #Ariel #MyAriel," referencing villain Ursula's memorable musical number. The network, which is home to Bailey's TV show grown-ish, then proceeded to count the ways in which an African-American Ariel was not only possible, but totally a celebrated selection.
The post, which was also shared on the network's Instagram, began with quite the colorful history lesson:
"Yes. The original author of 'The Little Mermaid' was Danish. Ariel...is a mermaid. She lives in an underwater kingdom in international waters and can legit swim wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy). But for the sake of argument, let's say that Ariel, too, is Danish. Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black. Ariel can sneak up to the surface at any time with her pals Scuttle and the *ahem* Jamaican crab Sebastian (sorry, Flounder!) and keep that bronze base tight. Black Danish people, and thus mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair."
And their brilliant rebuttal to the backlash didn't stop there.
Freeform continued the post by calmly reminding everyone that Ariel, while beloved, is a fictional character. And that Halle, who has played Sky on grown-ish alongside sister Chloe since 2018, is a stellar pick: "But spoiler alert - bring it back to the top - the character of Ariel is a work of fiction. So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is 'because she doesn't look like the cartoon one,' oh boy, do I have some news for you...about you."
The network, which is also owned by Disney, got a ton of positive feedback on social. One user, @nk1isontheway, tweeted, "Alright freeform!!! This just made me call y'all by y'all real name instead of ABC Family," while @taytovenn wrote, "freeform, you're doing amazing sweetie."
For as much noise is being made over Bailey's casting, a lot of high-profile praise has also been sent the "Happy Without Me" singer's way. Bailey tweeted out news of her casting on July 3 via her shared Twitter with Chloe, writing, "dream come true..." alongside mermaid and wave emojis and a photo of an African-American animated Ariel. Shortly after, everyone from Mariah Carey to Janelle Monáe to Zendaya and Halle Berry congratulated Bailey.
It seems that unless you have, in fact, been living "Under the Sea," you have thoughts about the live-action Little Mermaid. However, there's no need to wonder any longer about where Freeform stands on Bailey as Ariel. And there are more than a few "poor, unfortunate souls" who should take their words to heart.