The Original ‘Little Mermaid’ Is A Horrible Movie

Tom Kuegler
4 min readMay 16


Photo by Disney (obviously).

Ariel captured the hearts of little girls everywhere in 1989’s The Little Mermaid.

Too bad she was a horrific main character.

I watched this movie again with my wife recently and I must say, I was massively underwhelmed by this timeless classic.

Not only was I underwhelmed, I was baffled that little girls actually looked up to Ariel and loved her.

How it became a “classic” in the pantheon of animated Disney movies is beyond me, and many critics praised Ariel as being “rebellious” and not just allowing the fates to decide her destiny.

I mean, I like that, but Ariel is also really stupid in this movie and the “love” that she shares with Eric has all the sophistication of a 5-year old’s tea party.

Furthermore, I hate to break it to you but the story of Ariel was written by a couple dudes. What would they know about what it feels like to be a 16-year-old girl?

Not much. And it shows.

Let’s talk about why the old ‘Little Mermaid’ is a little problematic.

What Is This Love Story?

Ariel is a girl who wishes to be a human. That’s fine.

Where I start getting lost is when Ariel sees Prince Eric literally one time and falls in love with him. There’s no talking. No getting to know one another. Ariel takes the position of “Hey you’re hot. I like hot people. I love you.”

As if that wasn’t already bad enough, Ariel ends up selling her soul to the “devil” just to meet Eric — a human who she’s never actually spoken to before.

As I re-watched this film I thought to myself, ‘This is the hero of every girl born in the 80 and 90's?’


A girl who falls so head over heels for a random hot dude that she’d stupidly sell her soul to the devil to meet him?


What’s even worse is the ensuing love story that somehow blossoms between Eric and Ariel. It’s a love story based entirely on body language and looking at each other.

So let me get this straight. For the first time in Disney Animation History we have a woman main character who’s rebellious, headstrong, and takes things into her own hands, but the love story we get is one of the most superficial romance tales Disney’s ever created? And for a studio who used to make countless movies about princesses waiting for their perfect prince to rescue them, that’s saying something!

So here’s the lesson for little girls everywhere:

Fall in love with hot dudes. Don’t factor anything else into the equation. If they’re hot, go for them. All you have to do is look pretty and stare at your man and they will love you back.

There is nothing there for me with this love story and I know it’s a kid’s movie but damn. Give me a little bit more.

Why Is Ariel So Stupid?

Okay Ariel is 16 years old so the youth explains how stupid she is at times but the writers couldn’t have changed this at all?

I know main characters need to have fatal flaws but come on.

Ariel doesn’t even have any impact on the ending of this movie. Eric is the one who impales Ursula and kills her. The sea creatures on top of the ship cause Ursula’s necklace to break. Her Dad is the one who needs to save Ariel, offering up his soul to in exchange for hers.

Ariel is not sophisticated or powerful enough to have any bearing on the end of this movie.

“I’m going to sell my soul to go to the human world to make Eric, a human who doesn’t even know who I am, fall in love with me.”

“And I’m going to do it without my voice.”

That’s Ariel. This is the favorite Disney character of little girls and full-grown women everywhere. A stupid girl who thinks staring at her love interest will make him fall in love with her, too.

I’m not even mad at Ariel. I don’t hate her character. I like her curiosity, the way she wants to bridge cultures, and yes, even her rebelliousness.

I’m mad at the writers of this story.

The truth is The Little Mermaid is an overrated Disney movie that became a smash hit because of its iconic songs and beautiful animation style.

Something about these songs caught the hearts of audiences everywhere, and they were so enamored with them that they didn’t realize just how bad this movie really was.

Ariel is a garbage female main character who deserves better.

She’s an airhead who gets praised for having teenage traits like rebelliousness and stubbornness. That in and of itself shows us how starved many young girls were for a role model back then.

John Musker and Ron Clements wrote this film, and they gave us the bare minimum in terms of a good female main character and for some reason females everywhere bought into it hook, line, and sinker.

I normally hate the very concept of Disney Live-Action remakes, but I think this story might just deserve it. Ariel needs to be better. I have faith the remake will actually present Ariel in a better light.

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Tom Kuegler

Travel blogger. 29 years old. Currently in Mexico. Get my free 5-day Medium course via email →