When I tell you that news broke last night that Disney is producing a spinoff series based on a character from their billion-dollar summer blockbuster Aladdin, a live-action remake of the animated classic, I’m sure your assumption would be something like: oh, a spinoff about Aladdin? I’d watch that.
But it’s not about Aladdin. Guess again.
Princess Jasmine? Jafar?
Wrong on both counts. Last guess.
Um…the Genie? Abu the Monkey? The flying carpet?
Nope. See, you’re not thinking in the mindset of a studio executive, who looks at a great movie with one of Disney’s most ethnically diverse live-action casts and asks themselves: is there any way to make an entire TV show about the one white guy in this movie?
Still not ringing any bells? That’s because the one white guy in Aladdin only had two scenes, and you probably forgot him long ago, he was so insignificant. Prince Anders, the regal visitor from a far away kingdom called Skanland (in my review of Aladdin, I mistakenly marked it down as Scotland: my bad), made no impression on any of the characters around him, and thus made no impression on us, the audience. And yes, I’m sure Billy Magnussen was doing his very best in the role (and clearly he thinks he was good enough to warrant his own miniseries, as he was apparently involved in pitching this idea to the studio), but Anders came across as an unlikable buffoon who absolutely nobody would want to spend time with – if there was any purpose to his character, that was it. He unsuccessfully courted Princess Jasmine (and in a deleted scene gifted her a giant cannon, which blew up his own ship), and then hung around in the background like a clingy house-guest that everybody was this close to escorting out the door. And yet, he’s getting his very Disney+ streaming series.
Disney has hired Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme to write a script for the series (Disney’s first spinoff of a live-action remake), which will star Magnussen. Plot details are still unknown, but if the series is going to have anything to do with Aladdin, it will presumably follow the dim-witted prince on his…journey? Leisurely stroll?…through the city of Agrabah. It is not known whether any of the other main cast of Aladdin will show up in the series – don’t forget, a sequel to that film is also supposedly in the works at Disney.
Despite that, many people are understandably upset that this news broke just days after Aladdin star Mena Massoud revealed that, since the blockbuster’s release back in May, he hasn’t gotten a single audition. While he’s probably going to star in the unconfirmed Aladdin 2, the optics of this announcement are ridiculously bad. Firstly, because nobody was asking for an entire spinoff series about an annoying background character whose biggest scene was deleted from the movie. Secondly, because there are a number of other characters in Aladdin who would make for much more interesting and compelling protagonists: a Jafar prequel series, exploring his rise from street rat to vizier; a fun comedy series following Genie and his new love-interest Dahlia on their voyages around the world; literally anyone else in Agrabah who is actually, oh I don’t know, an Agrabahan (Agrabahon? Agrabahni?).
I also fear that this announcement means Anders isn’t going away anytime soon, and will stick around for the Aladdin sequel, assuming his series has any sort of popularity. Personally, I’d be happy forgetting that this character ever existed – but alas, I don’t have my own personal Genie who can wish this nonsense out of existence.
What do you think of the news? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!