Nickelodeon is pulling animated show Made by Maddie off its schedule in response to a controversy about similarities between its characters and those in the Oscar-winning short Hair Love.
The show had been set to premiere Sept. 13 on Nick Jr., the ViacomCBS network’s preschool channel. After Nickelodeon released a teaser for the show earlier in the week, the show drew criticism on social media for its characters’ resemblance to those in Hair Love, the short written and co-directed by Matthew A. Cherry that won the Oscar for best animated short earlier this year.
“Made by Maddie is a show we acquired several years ago from Silvergate Media, a renowned production company we have previously worked with on other series. Since announcing the show’s premiere date this week, we have been listening closely to the commentary, criticism and concern coming from both viewers and members of the creative community,” Nickelodeon said in a statement.
“In response, and out of respect to all voices in the conversation, we are removing the show from our schedule as we garner further insight into the creative journey of the show. We are grateful to Silvergate Media for all of their work. And we hold Matthew A. Cherry and the wonderful and inspiring Hair Love in the highest regard.”
Made by Maddie centers on an 8-year-old Black girl who uses her fashion sense and design skills to solve problems, along with the help of some friends and her parents, Dee and Rashad. Maddie frequently wears a pink headband in her hair, while Dee is depicted with natural hair and Rashad with locs. The families in both projects also have pet cats.
The mom and dad in Hair Love also have natural hair and locs, respectively, and the little girl, Zuri, also wears a pink headband. The similarities sparked a wave of criticism on social media, with users accusing Silvergate Media and Nickelodeon of copying Cherry’s work. Cherry hasn’t spoken on the matter but did retweet or reply to several posts calling out the resemblance, including the one below.
— ❥ (@softblackgirls) September 2, 2020
Silvergate Media (Octonauts, Nick’s Sunny Day) maintains it has been working on the show (formerly called Fashion Ally) since before Cherry began a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 to fund Hair Love.
“Silvergate Media has been working on the series for the last five years and throughout the production has taken steps to ensure a diverse production team and an appropriate voice cast lending their expertise and talent,” CEO Waheed Alli said. “As creators ourselves, we have the utmost respect and admiration for Matthew A. Cherry and Hair Love, and our hope is that when people watch our show, they will see it is its own story with its own adventures.”
Silvergate says it began developing the show in 2015. The Hair Love Kickstarter launched in July 2017. Nickelodeon ordered Made by Maddie to series (under its former title) in April 2018; Hair Love made its theatrical debut in August 2019.