This DUCKTALES review contains spoilers.
It’s hard for any TV show to surprise me but when they opened that gift and discovered Scrooge was actually delivering coal all this time? I gasped. WHAT A BETRAYAL. Scrooge, how dare you! But… it made sense.
DuckTales has done a lot of work in growing Scrooge from the person we first met in the premiere who only cared about money. He’s slowly grown to love his extended family and isn’t quite as much of a curmudgeon as he used to be. Still though, just because Scrooge has changed some parts of himself doesn’t mean he’s flawless. There are a lot of ingrained world views that can’t be changed in just a few years.
Scrooge loves to remind us of his impoverished background. That he worked himself up from nothing. It makes for a great “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” story but Scrooge never likes to dwell on what it was like to live in poverty. Growing up without any coal for the fire, it’s not a pleasant way to live.
Since it’s a Christmas episode we can look at this in the schmaltziest way possible, Scrooge’s heart turned cold, to ice. It had to in order to survive. He was forced to live practically, making money any way he could. At first he might have felt jealous at not getting frivolous gifts but to combat that he turned his jealousy into a deep hatred. Who needs frivolous things, practical is the way to go! If you want frivolous things there’s something wrong with you!
This insight helps to illuminate why his friendship with Santa broke down. Seeing his kindness reminds Scrooge of what he never got. The defenses he built up pushed Santa away. If he gives away frivolous gifts that means Scrooge’s whole mindset is wrong, his whole life is wrong! Scrooge refuses to acknowledge how awful growing up was and instead romanticizes the awful conditions he was in. It’s what’s kept him going… and he wants to inflict it on everyone else.
Of course Scrooge isn’t trying to be that awful, this is all beneath the surface. In his mind he genuinely thinks he’s helping people (and making a nice profit to.) However it’s when he meets Jennifer that he realizes how wrong he’s been. She doesn’t want something practical; she just wants something fun to play with. Scrooge can’t believe this at first. It makes no sense! You need to be practical to survive!
But no… you don’t. Sure the coal would make the house warm for a night but it’s the joy at the nice gift that’ll get Jennifer through the hard times. In that moment Scrooge realizes how wrong he’s been. Not just tonight but his whole life. His cold, icy heart wasn’t something to be proud of. It was simply a way for him to survive and that wasn’t good in the long term. He kept his defenses up long past when they were useful and in the process hurt others.
Scrooge discovers that no, frivolous things aren’t bad. Being practical doesn’t automatically make it better. Sometimes you just need something nice.
I absolutely love this insight into Scrooge and the wider message the whole story conveyed. If you’re in a rough place financially it’s easy for others to look down on you for owning anything frivolous. If you have nothing the only things you should be getting are PRACTICAL. But no, no matter who you are you deserve something nice. Something that isn’t just for survival. That can keep you going, no matter how frivolous it might be.
It’s awful that so many rich people in the world, who have everything and could be beyond generous, refuse to help others in this way. They look down on those less well off and chide them for not living practically. It’s the annoying “if you stopped buying Starbucks you’d be rich!” adage. Jeez, just let people have some small comforts in life!
That’s what makes Scrooges turn in this episode all the more powerful. He rejects the ice-cold worldview he’s kept inside his whole life and finally allows his heart to be open to warmth again. He mends his broken relationship with Santa and does right, giving frivolous gifts to the whole world! More of the wealthy in our world could learn a lesson from Scrooge. (They should also share their wealth and not hoard it but hey, DuckTales hopefully has a long run to tackle that issue to.)
After so much build up I wasn’t sure DuckTales could pull off finally revealing why Scrooge hates Santa so much but they made it work! It was schmaltzy, yes, but it’s a Christmas episode and it was a damn good lesson with some rich insight into Scrooge’s character.
Major credit goes to writer Colleen Evanson, storyboarders Sam King, Kathryn Marusik, Stephan Park, director Jason Zurek, and everyone else who helped bring this wonderful story to screen. You all deserve the most frivolous gifts possible!
DuckTales Quotes To Make Your Life Better
-“Probably a bunch of carolers spreading lies.”
“Let’s go silent their night.”
-“What kind of toy is this?”
“One of our most powerful resources.”