Popular children’s television network Nickelodeon found itself in the middle of a cultural-appropriation scandal yesterday after they announced a new Nick Jr. animated series, “Made By Maddie.”
The series will focus on a budding 8-year-old Black girl fashion designer who, according to a press release, “uses her imagination and design ingenuity to turn every problem into a positive with the perfect fashion fix”, a story that Black Twitter users have found extremely similar to the Academy Award-winning short by author Matthew A. Cherry and illustrator Vashti Harrison entitled “Hair Love”. While the descriptions of the two shows are different (“Hair Love” focuses mostly on natural hair) it’s the similarities between what the characters look like that became the topic of conversation on social media.
For context, all of the characters in “Hair Love” and “Made By Maddie” were created to sport their natural hair. Both fathers in each story have dreadlocks and both feature a Black nuclear family with a young daughter that the story is focused on. “Hair Love” was created by the all-Black duo of Cherry and Harrison and “Made By Maddie” was created by a white woman (Paula Rosenthal) yet stars Black actors (Alyssa Cheatham, Patina Miller and James Monroe Iglehart) as the voices behind the show’s main characters. Additionally, “Made By Maddie” was created a year after Cherry first began working to finance “Hair Love”, which suggests that “Made By Maddie” could have at least been inspired by “Hair Love,” given the timeline.
Although the plotlines themselves appear to be different, it’s hard to escape the comparisons between the two pieces, especially considering that “Hair Love” was created a year before the creation of “Made By Maddie.” Of course we’re always “rooting for everybody Black” (as Issa Rae would say) and always happy when Black representation grows and when Black actors work–even in the midst of the pandemic– but we can’t help but to question Nickelodeon’s inspiration behind creating “Made By Maddie” without nodding to the creator of “Hair Love”
Even though Cherry didn’t directly comment on the matter, he did retweet a few tweets that called out the blatant similarities between the two. Nickelodeon hasn’t commented on the situation yet either and it’ll be interesting to see if they respond at all. As of right now, “Made By Maddie” is still set to release on Nick Jr. on September 13 at 11am.
Nickelodeon Under Fire For Seemingly Appropriating ‘Hair Love’ With New Animated Show was originally published on hellobeautiful.com