Dead End: The creator of the Paranormal Park on why Courtney’s Pronouns have changed


Creator Hamish Steele explains why Courtney’s pronouns have changed compared to the original comic in the animated series “Dead End: Paranormal Park”. This animated adaptation, based on Steele’s DeadEndia comic, was recently released on Netflix and has received a new response on social media. “Dead End” tells the story of two teenagers, Barney Gutman (Zach Barak, “Spider-Man: Far from Home”) and Norma Khan (Cody Kavita, “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”), who take on a new job at a haunted theme park. As they try to uncover the secrets of the park, the pair are joined by the demonic Courtney, voiced by Emily Osment from “Hannah Montana”, and the partially possessed dog Barney Pugsley (Alex Brightman, known for “Beetlejuice” on Broadway).

The Netflix animation makes some notable changes compared to Steele’s original graphic novel. In the comic, Norma and Barney are friends with each other while working as cleaners in Phoenix Park, whereas in the Netflix series they work as security guards (who don’t do their jobs very well). Other changes have led to the 912-year-old demon Courtney moving away from using the pronouns they / they are to pronouns she/her for the show.

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Now Steele is telling on his Twitter what decisions were made when making this change to Dead End: Paranormal Park. Netflix is aware of the inhuman non-binary trope, and the producers encouraged blind casting for the role of Courtney, planning for Courtney to use the same pronouns as the actors. Although Steele assured fans that Osment is best suited for this role, he also understands that this change could disappoint those who hoped to see themselves in the image. Despite the rearrangement of pronouns, many fans still consider Courtney to be non-binary, even if it is not directly said on the screen. Read Steele’s full exchange below:

Netflix was aware of the negative reaction to the fact that the other NB characters were always monsters/aliens/robots, and convinced us to do all the gender casting and use the pronouns of those we chose. Emily was 100% the best candidate, but I still fully understand her frustration.

Yes, I agree, and I’m glad that the fandom noticed it right away, I just Netflix wanted Courtney not to claim a big victory in representation.

While non-binary characters have begun to appear on screens more and more often, these roles are still far from each other. If you look at the non-binary representation on television, a lot of these characters fall into the category of “non-human”, and many justify their identity with the idea that these characters simply do not understand human concepts of gender. This way of interpreting non-binary symbols can be harmful, but it does not inherently make the presentation bad, since characters such as Aziraphale and Crowley from “Good Omens” are widely adored. Although it certainly becomes tedious if this is the only way non-binary people see themselves on screen.

Dead End has a diverse cast, creating characters with different backgrounds, personalities and physiques. It focuses on Barney, a transgender man who finds a home in a haunted theme park when he no longer feels at home with his parents. “Dead End” pays great attention to LGBTQ+ identity, and also explores disability and neurodivergence with autistic characters such as Norma. While fans, for obvious reasons, may still be saddened by Courtney’s change of pronouns, the Dead End: Paranormal Park team decided to consider the overall impact that their creative decisions will have in order to avoid further use of the often upsetting image.