A continuation of the acclaimed series, “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” follows the adventures and misadventures of newly 14-year-old Penny Proud and her Proud Family as they navigate modern life with hilarity and heart. The 2020s brings new career highs for mom Trudy, wilder dreams for dad Oscar and new challenges for Penny, including a socially woke neighbor who thinks she has a lot to teach her, bullying social media influencers who want to cancel her and her own teenage hormones. Penny’s friends return, including Dijonay, LaCienega, Zoey and Michael. Penny’s Suga Mama also returns, ready as ever to dispense tough love or a gentle hand whenever Penny needs it. Among the new faces are Maya and KG, new kids who not only have to deal with the struggles of being the new kid but also having two dads, a first for Smithville.
Penny may be changing, but things around the Proud house are pretty much the same state of chaos they’ve always been. Her dad Oscar (Tommy Davidson) is trying to invent some gummy edible goo with the help of Penny’s twin toddler siblings BeBe and CeCe (Aiden Dodson, Bresha Webb). Her mother Trudy (Paula Jai Parker) is going to start a mobile veterinary lab, which Oscar’s industrious brother Bobby (Cedric The Entertainer) has tweaked a bit.
Oscar sees his blossoming 14-year-old daughter and immediately objects, throwing her in a suit of armor. Suga Mama (Jo Marie Payton) comes in, smashes her cane on her son’s foot, and tells him that he’s being overprotective.
Penny meets her buddies Dijonay Jones (Karen Malina White), LaCienega Boulevardez (Alisa Reyes), Michael Collins (EJ Johnson) and Zoey Howser (Soleil Moon Frye). All of them have been touched by the magic of puberty: Dijonay is more extra than usual, Michael has his usual put-together look; Zoey is so tall her legs look like stilts, and LaCienega has so much hair and acne on her face she hides under her hood.
They go to Sticky Webb’s house, mainly so Dijonay can harass him some more, but run into the Gross Sisters (Raquel Lee). They no longer bully the neighborhood kids; they now manage hip-hop acts and more or less intimidate people into using their clients. For the dance that the friends are organizing, they want them to use a new client who dresses like a baby.
Much to Dijonay’s dismay, Sticky has moved to Japan and a new family is at his house. Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins (Keke Palmer) and her brother KG (“A Boogie” Dubose) move around a lot due to the jobs of their fathers Barry and Randall (Zachary Quinto, Billy Porter). Penny immediately tries to ingratiate herself to Maya, but she’s having none of it.
Maya repeatedly turns away Penny’s attempts at being friends, eventually telling her that she sees superficial types like her at every school she goes to. Penny tries to prove that she’s deep by volunteering to help her protest the captivity of a panda at the local zoo. She ducks out of the dance to do it, but finds out that Maya wants to do more than just protest: She wants to liberate the panda. When they get to his cage, they find out, though, that the panda is just fine where he is, causing Penny to go off on Maya and tell her what she really thinks.
One of the reasons why we enjoyed the original run of The Proud Family so much is that it’s sensibility is more like a family sitcom rather than being purely a kids’ show. Ralph Farquhar, a sitcom veteran, co-created this new series with Smith (Jan Hirota and Calvin Brown Jr. join them as producers), and that background is evident in Louder and Prouder.
Not only does each half-hour episode pack in a lot of story, like its predecessor, the show isn’t afraid of showing extreme sight gags and a lot of physical comedy. Those gags can come fast and furious, but a lot of them land for the viewer, even ones as extreme as Oscar giving Penny a suit of armor. Later in the episode, he fits her with army fatigues so she can wear it to the dance, but she learns from Michael to “be ready”, simply unzipping the uniform to reveal the outfit underneath.
But there’s plenty of time for story, and lots of jokes that come from what we already know about the characters from the original show. You don’t really need to have watched the original show to appreciate the sequel, though, which is always a plus, especially when 16 years has elapsed between seasons.
It doesn’t take long for the show to dive into specifically 2022-era issues either. In episode 2, Penny tries to combat everyone’s blind following of an influencer named “Makeup Boy” by making her own social media videos. She soon becomes an influencer herself, and the power she has goes to her head. The show has never been afraid of diving into issue-oriented stories, and we hope to see more of that as the season goes along.