Following in the footsteps of its fellow Paramount-produced animated series Transformers: EarthSpark, the Paw Patrol spin-off series Rubble & Crew recently saw the introduction of new, non-binary character to its expansive cast of problem solvers.
RELATED: Marvel’s ‘She-Hulk’ Actress Jameela Jamil Wants To Keep Gendered Acting Awards, Proposes Giving Non-Binary People Their Own Category “Rather Than Open The Door For Hollywood To Completely Shut Out Women”
Debuting in February of this year, Rubble & Crew follows the titular English Bulldog as he moves from his home in Adventure Bay to Builder Cove and, in typical Paw Patrol fashion, opens up a new construction company with the aim of helping the town and its citizens in completing its various public works.
And in the 19th episode of the spin-offs first season, ‘The Crew Builds An Observatory’, the protagonist pups’ circle of friends expanded to include the aforementioned non-binary character, River.
A young skateboard and aspiring photographer obsessed with ‘getting the right pic’, the pups cross paths with River just as they are deciding which construction project to tackle that day.
Explaining how they and their family are recent transplants to Builder Cove, River laments to the team that though the town has a wide-variety of impressive buildings – all built by the pups, of course – the one thing it doesn’t have is an observatory.
And without it, River tells their new friends, they will be unable to snap a satisfactory picture of a passing ‘shooting star’ (though referred to as such, the object actually appears to be a comet).
Seeking to make their new friend feel at home, the pups put their noses to the grind and use their various skills to make River’s dream a reality.
Following a temporary transportation problem caused by a sudden drop in temperature, the pups ultimately complete their goal, much to River’s excitement.
Their work complete and River’s photo of the shooting star successfully taken, the group closes out the episode by taking a selfie with their new friend.
As to River’s non-binary identity, this fact is never explicitly addressed or mentioned in the episode itself. Rather than the walking ‘social awareness billboard’ commonly depicted in contemporary media, River is introduced and treated like a normal human being, the episode’s focus remaining solely on the pups’ efforts to see the stars.
Instead, this fact was revealed in post by the episode’s writer, LGBTQ+ activist Lindsay Amer.
Perhaps most notable as the founder of Queer Kid Stuff, a YouTube channel that aims to bring “LGBTQ+ and social justice media to kids and families”, Amer took to their personal Instagram account roughly two weeks after the series premiere to announce, “They brought me on to consult on the first nonbinary character—meet River!!—for the PP universe and write their episode, talk about a bucket list item.”
“I wanted to write a nonbinary character that was aspirational and incredibly cool, someone for the pups (and kids at home) to look up to,” continued the activist, who themselves identifies as non-binary. “They found an awesome non-binary actor to voice River and I’m so so happy about how it turned out.”
To this end, Amer then revealed that though they avoided any overt discussion of Rivers’ identity, they did make a subtle reference to it by applying the transgender pride flag’s pink, white, and light-blue color scheme to the character’s shoes.
“Peep River’s [non-binary, transgender] kicks!”, Amer ultimately invited.
The recently completed first season of Rubble & Crew is now available to stream on multiple services, including Nick Jr., Prime Video, and Apple TV.
Meanwhile, production on a second season is currently underway.