“Captain Underpants” and the Not-So-Stinky Same-Sex Surprise

captunderpantscoverHere’s something worth talking about besides the never-ending nonsense in Kentucky. The “Captain Underpants” series, which is widely beloved by children and widely poo-poo’ed by fuddy-duddies, went out with a major mic drop last week.

If you haven’t read “Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-a-Lot” yet, consider this a spoiler warning. In the 12th and reportedly final book in the series, author Dav Pilkey reveals very quietly that one of the major characters that kids have been reading about for almost 20 years now, will grow up to marry a man. It happens when the two friends at the center of the story travel to the future and see themselves with their future families. One of those families looks like this:


“Soon, everyone had gathered together in Old Geroge’s studio. Old George, his wife, and their kids, Meena and Nik, sat on the couch, while Old Harold, his husband, and their twins, Owen and Kei, plopped down in the giant beanbag chair.”

And that’s it. Then comes another 86 pages of time travel, stinky gas and three helpful creatures that are half bionic hamsters and half pterodactyls.

I wouldn’t even call this a “twist”. If Harold’s sexual orientation was never mentioned before in the series, it’s only because he’s 10 years old when the rest of the story takes place. 10-year-old boys have about a million concerns more pressing than who they’re going to marry someday, so I’m not surprised that the issue didn’t arise while they were battling farts and whatnot.

Of course, I especially loved hearing this news because my family looks a lot like Harold’s family.


I only wish I had been able to see that picture when I was 10 years old. It would’ve made the following 20 years or so a lot more bearable to know that I was going to have a husband and kids when I grew up. So the thought of Harold getting that glimpse of his future made me very happy, not so much for the fictional character as for the hordes of real-life kids who’ll get a chance to see something I never got to see when I was their age.

Because I’m a sadist, I went to the book’s Amazon page to see what reviewers were saying about this revelation. Not surprisingly, some people accused Pilkey of having a political agenda. I was about in mid-eyeroll from that accusation when I saw that the book also had a bunch of jokes about the GOP (“Grouchy Old People”) and FOX News.

The "GOP", according to Dav Pilkey

The “GOP”, according to Dav Pilkey

So maybe this was a calculated move on Pilkey’s part. If so, good for him. There’s always been room for controversial topics in middle grade fiction. Ask anyone who grew up reading Judy Blume. Ultimately, I suspect Pilkey didn’t make his creative choice for attention or because he’s beholden to some radical gay agenda. He did it because he knows and cares about his readers. He knows some of them will grow up to be gay, and pretty much all of them will grow up knowing and caring about someone who’s gay. A few of them will even go to school with my kids, and when they get to that part of “Sir Stinks-a-Lot”, they’ll go, “Oh, yeah. That’s like my friends’ family!”

Most importantly, though, I’d imagine Pilkey wrote the book this way because he knows his characters, and he’s probably been aware for a while that Harold is gay.

Oh, and it looks like George, the African-American kid, may have married a Caucasian woman, if that’s worth noting at all. (No one on Amazon seems to care, at least.)captunderpants5

The good news is that as I read the Amazon reviews, I noticed two important things about the one-star smackdowns: First, they made up a mere 8% of the book’s total reviews (which I know is likely to change if some Grouchy Old People decide to start a hate campaign against the book), and second, they’re all from grown-ups.

The kids who reviewed the book — the actual intended audience — mostly gave it rave reviews. 77% of them (as of the publication of this post) rated it 4 or 5 stars.

OK, OK, but how did the kids feel about the big reveal that Harold was gay?

It’s hard to say, honestly. Only a handful of them even bothered to mention it.

Pics reprinted from “Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-a-Lot” by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic, Inc., copyright 2015).

35 comments on ““Captain Underpants” and the Not-So-Stinky Same-Sex Surprise

  1. Alex loves this book series and we will certainly be purchasing this 12th installment. Of course, I showed Alex the picture of Harold’s future family- “look, it’s just like Daddy & Brian!” – Which was met with a shrug and a disinterested “oh cool” which I think (hope!) is most kids are starting to see same-sex marriage these days. 😄

  2. I love it! And look forward to the day when it’s no big deal! I had to relook at the picture of George to see he married a Caucasian! I love that and hope one day we have to think twice to see someone is different!

  3. Kids do not see these things, we adults make such a big deal about. Hatred is taught, it is not something you are born with. One day I wish we could all mark paperwork with Human, not white, black, asian, hispanic, married, widowed etc. etc. Great post!!

    • Pardon me, but hatred is denying a child a (female) mom. Or, a lesbian couple denying a child a male Dad. Nature is inherently natural, and changing things out of selfishness (or, lack of selflessness) is true hatred. That’s why it’s celebrated in modern society…just like moral relativism dictates.

  4. My kids are big Captain Underpants fans. We have laughed and groaned through all of their adventures and potty talk. This news is the icing on the cake – can’t wait to read it! 🙂

  5. Pingback: “Captain Underpants” and the Not-So-Stinky Same-Sex Surprise | darylhb

  6. This is excellent! My boys are a bit small to read these yet but I will definitely be reading these to them! It’s wonderful to see authors including representation of families who aren’t cookie-cutter (mine isn’t either) and I applaud the author for doing so in a seamless way.
    And your family is beautiful !!

  7. My kids and I just met Pilkey at a book signing at our library! My son loves the books, and now I’m even happier we were able to meet him. We haven’t yet read the latest book, but I love that he included something so seamlessly into the story that could make a world of difference to thousands of kids…and help a whole generation grow up believing that love is love.

  8. My son just chose this book at the last book fair our school had and he is only 5. We have been reading about four chapters a night before bed when we arrived at the future Harold and his husband chapter. I was not amused. We teach our children the Biblical truth about marriage. Why does every aspect of our society have to be inundated with the homosexual agenda? Evidently I will have to pre-read all of his future choices. Before I get labeled a bigot or a hater, let me just say that do not hate anyone and that everyone has the choice to be with whomever they like; but can we please quit normalizing sin.

    • Being gay isn’t a sin. Who says it’s “normal” to be straight? I’m not gay myself, but I’ve had friends who were gay, and they were as “normal” as anyone else I know. I don’t think there truly is a “normal” when it comes to humans, anyway. You like who you like, that’s what I say. I think if two human beings love each other and want to be together, it shouldn’t matter about gender, just like it shouldn’t matter with race, ethnicity, religion, etc. The only condition that truly matters is age difference, but really only if someone is under the legal age of consent.

      Captain Underpants is an excellent book series that I have been into for almost 10 years myself, and I think it’s good to see children’s books being so progressive. They didn’t have to do it, but the fact that they did just shows how far we have come as a society. I’m reminded of another book, A Bad Kitty Christmas, where Bad Kitty runs away and an old lady takes her in and shows her a photo album filled with pictures of her relatives, and one of her female relatives is mentioned to have “a partner named Pam”.

      I wouldn’t say society is inundated with it, but if it is, it’s only because it shouldn’t be a big deal to be homosexual, and people need to learn that. Where better to start than with children? They are the future, after all.

      • According to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin, not only a sin but It says it’s an abomination. The fact that it is the 12th book in a series and there was no disclosure of this material is where my problem comes in. It was completely by accident that I saw the reviews. I normally don’t read book review, especially, on a series that I’ve already read multiple books on. Not only was I surprised by the same sex family but also other political slams in the book. We chose not to buy the book.

      • Thanks for the comment, Penny. FYI I think everyone’s heard that abomination talk about 1 gazillion times by now, so if you’re hoping to convince anyone, I think you’re wasting your time, especially on this blog. Of course, if this Captian Underpants book isn’t for you, that’s fine. Whether or not you buy a book is completely up to you, and if this one offends you, by all means, don’t buy it. That’s why I don’t own a Bible.

      • Thanks for the comment, Penny. FYI I think everyone’s heard that abomination talk about 1 gazillion times by now, so if you’re hoping to convince anyone, I think you’re wasting your time, especially on this blog. Of course, if this Captian Underpants book isn’t for you, that’s fine. Whether or not you buy a book is completely up to you, and if this one offends you, by all means, don’t buy it. That’s why I don’t own a Bible.

  9. Oh God. This post made me feel really OLD. I have no idea who Captain Underpants is. BUT, I get the gist of your post. Very much so. I’m so glad that there is reading material of this nature out there for kids and families today. It is so much more REAL than the Dick & Jane crap I was weaned on. I never saw myself or my family (raised by single mom) in the D&J model. And as a woman, who at a very young age, knew that I DID NOT want to have children, the crap I was weaned on provided no path, no alternative, no positive feedback. I understand how overjoyed you are by the presence of the latest twist of Captain Underpants, whoever the heck he is! 😉

  10. I’ve never been a fan of Captain Underpants, but my youngest daughter loves the books. Since I am a HUGE fan of children reading, I’ll pretty much let her read anything age appropriate! I’m not sure she’s read any of the more recent books though. I will have to try and find them for her.
    She’s 12, has Asperger’s, and is currently very curious about subjects like sex, family life, differing body parts, etc. Maybe this will help a bit…..?

  11. It is interesting to me that you wrote this: “I wouldn’t even call this a “twist”. If Harold’s sexual orientation was never mentioned before in the series, it’s only because he’s 10 years old when the rest of the story takes place. 10-year-old boys have about a million concerns more pressing than who they’re going to marry someday, so I’m not surprised that the issue didn’t arise while they were battling farts and whatnot.” Shouldn’t that be true for the children who read Pilkey’s books, also? Ten year olds and younger are reading these books – let them just have their million childish concerns. Some may cavalierly say they have to learn to deal withthe real world; those would be the adults who were allowed their childhood. Pilkey robbed his audience of a piece of their childishness.

    • Robbed of a piece of their childishness? Because they saw a drawing of a happy family headed by gay dads? Given how melodramatic you are, are you sure YOU aren’t a gay man? (Sorry, that’s gay humor. You probably don’t get it.)

      You seem very comfortable with the assumption that 10-year-olds are automatically traumatized by becoming aware of the existence of gay dads. I can assure you, as someone with a great deal of personal experience in the matter, that I have yet to be aware of any child I’ve traumatized. Some of them are confused for a second or two, then they go back to whatever Pokemon or Shopkin they were playing with a minute earlier and invite me and my husband to their tea party. Kids are a lot more understanding and accepting than you give them credit for. Maybe that’s partially due to books like this one, in which case, I’m very grateful.

  12. I teach my children that homosexuality is wrong. I also teach them fornication and adultery are wrong. We are limited in what we can read or watch that doesn’t display these behaviors as acceptable or even glamourized. I respect everyone’s beliefs and their right to choose right and wrong for themselves. We bought the book not knowing about the “twist”. My son thought it was a mistake, so we discussed it. To us it is just another example of making what is bad seem good….and also those who don’t accept it are deemed bad. We don’t like smoking and consider it wrong / bad but we don’t talk hateful of those who smoke. But, I wouldn’t purchase my child a toy that depicted smoking either. To each his own.

  13. Pingback: More Messes in Underwear: Pilkey, ADHD, Homosexuality, and The Author’s Shitty Childhood | White Tower Musings

  14. Pingback: “Captain Underpants” and the Not-So-Stinky Same-Sex Surprise | nnukpeople

  15. Pingback: Should we shield children from same-sex love? (not sex, LOVE!) – SARAH PERKINS

  16. I remember finishing the series as a little kid. I was surprised, but not because I thought it was bad– I had just never seen a gay relationship portrayed so casually. Then I smiled and got on with my day 🙂

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