“The Bravest Knight,” a children’s television series that centers on a family with same-sex parents, premiered on Hulu June 21 — the first such series on a mainstream network. I spoke with creator Daniel Errico about the show, his motivations, and working with the all-star voice cast.
The animated series is based on Errico’s 2014 book, “The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived” (available in an updated 2019 edition from Schiffer Publishing). In the book, a young pumpkin farmer named Cedric becomes a knight and marries the prince of his dreams. The television series shows Sir Cedric and Prince Andrew now with a daughter, Nia, who is training to be a knight herself. In each episode, Cedric shares stories of how he transformed from a “not-yet knight” to a full-fledged one. And in a larger arc, the season is about “helping Sir Cedric’s troll friend Grunt find his bridge, which was stolen by a bigger troll,” Errico said.
Notably, the show isn’t about having same-sex parents. “Just to have parents being parents is what we’re going for,” Errico said. Nevertheless, he understands the significance of showing a two-dad family. “It’s so important that kids feel represented in the stories they’re seeing,” he affirmed. “It’s a way for them to draw strength, solace, and understanding of themselves. To take that away from any child has consequences for them. It’s also a missed opportunity to introduce them to all these beautiful aspects of lives in the world and all forms of love and identity.”
Errico had a background in mechanical engineering and a career in finance before he decided to pursue his love, writing for kids. As preparation, he studied old fairy tales, but “I noticed there was really a stark lack of diversity in the characters.”
Still, the genre had an appeal. “Fairy tales have always been such a bastion for allegories, and I find that allegories are incredibly powerful,” he explained. “You get to hear these stories that take place in an unfamiliar world, like a fairy-tale kingdom, but draw on them in your own personal life.”
Inspiration also came from close to home. “At the time,” he related, “two friends of mine were living in New Jersey, my home state, and couldn’t get married, yet their relationship and their romance was every bit the fairy tale that I had read about.”
With them in mind, he wrote the original “Bravest Knight” story in 2013. When he tried to get it published, however, several large publishing houses said that because of the story’s same-sex relationship, they couldn’t publicly support it. They were afraid of protests and “can’t afford the loss of money.” Errico then tried pitching the story as an animated short, but “I couldn’t even get anyone to put it up for free because they were worried there would be backlash.”
In 2015, however, he met with Hulu, “and they just got it,” he said. “They understood the importance of stories; they understood the importance of having an openly gay protagonist.” They published ‘The Bravest Knight’ as an animated short, and a year later, added Errico’s short “Rosaline,” about a young farmer who outwits a witch and a big bad wolf on her way to visit her girlfriend. Actor Teri Polo, who played a lesbian mom on Freeform’s “The Fosters,” narrated “Rosaline.”
Hulu was then willing to consider a full series, so Errico partnered with animation studio Big Bad Boo, which he said also understood the importance of the show’s inclusive message. Errico was the executive producer, wrote all the episodes, and had a hand in backgrounds, character design, voice casting and more.
He’s effusive about the six voice leads. “Each one of them, every time they spoke, became my favorite,” he said. T. R. Knight (“Sir Cedric”) and Wilson Cruz (“Prince Andrew”) “are everything that you could hope for from parents, from people, and from cast.” Errico added, “T. R. Knight, I think, is going to help redefine what a hero is meant to be.”
Fifteen-year-old Storm Reid (“Nia”), from Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” is “the heart of the show. She’s everything we needed.” Twelve-year-old Chance Hurstfield (“Young Cedric”), another Disney alumnus, “just could not be more perfect.” Saturday Night Live veteran Bobby Moynihan (“Grunt”) “made me laugh every day.” And Teri Polo (“Saylor the Raven”) “brought this mature perspective and soul to the show.”
Other actors who appear throughout the 13-episode season include RuPaul (“as a wolf who identifies as male but wears what is traditionally considered feminine clothing and a wig,” Errico shared), Jazz Jennings, Christine Baranski, Wanda Sykes, Steven Weber, Donna Murphy, AJ McLean, Dot-Marie Jones, and Maz Jobrani. The theme song was written and performed by Grammy-nominated musician Justin Tranter.
While there are no definite plans beyond the first season, “I wrote the show with a few seasons in mind,” he affirmed. “There’s a larger overarching story that we’re ready to tell, so we’ll see. I’m more excited personally just to have kids get to meet these characters that we’ve been working on almost in secret for so long — to unveil them to the world and hopefully have kids see them as friends.”
He added, “I think that ‘The Bravest Knight,’ at its core, is about friendship and family, but it’s going to take our viewers on this grand adventure that shows them examples of bravery and resourcefulness that I don’t think are seen as much in kids’ media as they should be. I think that it is going to create a fun and safe environment to introduce them to some new ideas in an old way, through fairy tales.”
Inclusive stories matter — and that’s no fairy tale.
Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian (mombian.com), a GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory for LGBTQ parents.