Fans of Disney Channel Latin America’s Bia were thrilled when they heard it would arrive on Disney+ USA November 2020. All 60 episodes of seasons 1 appeared right on schedule, but since then the content team’s descent into less than the bare minimum has led to many casualties. The two most prominent categories being vintage content and the focus of this story, internationally-produced series.
In Year 1, there was hope Disney would be adding Disney Channel series produced in countries like Italy, Mexico, UK, etc. This is because the service launched with multiple titles including Soy Luna, Evermoor, and Violetta. The first sign this was not meant to be came only 1 month into the service when Just Like Me no-showed. It’s never appeared since. Furthermore, continued rumors of Disney 11 (O11CE), Penny on MARS, Alex & Co, or Binny and the Ghost arriving, ALL international Disney Channel shows with English audio dubs, amounted to nothing. This is why VPNS are popular.
After Bia season 1, people expected Bia season 2 and the Disney+ Original film, Bia: Un mundo al revés, to finish the story. Neither arrived, leaving the series incomplete. Bia holds the distinct honor of being one of very few titles Disney left incomplete. That list includes: The Replacements (added at launch, sans season 2), America’s Funniest Home Videos / AFV (most seasons missing), Port Protection Alaska (seasons 1-2 missing), Rolie Polie Olie (season 6 is missing), The Great Christmas Light Fight (seasons 1-7 are missing), Science of Stupid (seasons 1-7 are missing), Lost Treasures of Egypt (season 2 is missing), and a couple Nat Geo series that are missing seasons because of ownership changes and don’t count.
Disney’s Unfortunate Trends With International Series
On Disney+ Day 2021, Disney added Intertwined (incorrectly titled Disney Intertwined), the first international original to have a global release with dubbing available in all major markets. People rejoiced and believed Disney had finally learned to operate like Netflix which provides nearly all intentionally-produced originals with dubbing simultaneously across the world. Nevermind that Disney+ Marketing somehow failed to release the English Intertwined trailer on their social media at any point, effectively burying the addition. At least we had hope this was the beginning of all international originals coming over with English audio.
We were so wrong.
Disney’s hugely anticipated original K-Drama, Snowdrop, received a staggered international release with the theory being the delay was to accommodate the addition of localized audios. When it arrived on Disney+ February 9th, over a month after its initial premiere, that theory was shown to be incorrect as no English audio dubbing left visually impaired and blind people from experiencing the story. This is an obvious accessibility issue. For that matter, there are no localized audio tracks available anywhere, so it’s learn Korean or read the screen.
Upcoming release Rookie Cops will surely follow the same toxic pattern of foregoing dubbing, only making itself available to people who can read subtitles. Imagine if Squid Games hadn’t had an English audio track. Don’t fool yourself into think it would be the mainstream mega-success it is now if Netflix had forced everyone around the world to read subtitles. Netflix have released research and statements and patted themselves on the back multiple times over the past few years, revealing the necessity for audio dubs. For whatever reason Disney won’t follow suit and trust the master. Netflix is the only service in the position to know what works because they’re the seasoned veteran with the largest reach and most data.
Did Disney abandon Bia season 2 because they realized subscribers don’t want content without dubs? Or did they abandon it because they just don’t care about international releases? Is is possible they literally forget about it? It’s not appropriate either way to hold back half of a series. Once they added season 1, they created an obligation to add season 2.
Imagine how stocked Disney+ would be worldwide if all the originals they were producing in Germany, Italy, France, Latin America, etc were properly released as “originals” everywhere…
In the past we’ve reached out to Disney’s localization and content teams encouraging them to be better about this, but it’s fallen on deaf ears. NOTE: In the time since this article was written and scheduled for release, Disney has just dropped their March list and out of nowhere 3 international series are listed. Could the tides be turning? The scheduled titles are The Knights of Castelcorvo (Disney+ Italy original), Week-end Family, and Parallels (the latter two French originals).
What do you think? Do you expect Bia season 2 to ever arrive? Do you think Disney will ever learn the importance of dubbing their international originals?
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.