Okay, so. Most of the jokes in Horrible Histories were pretty surface level. Which is fine, because ‘surface level’ is not the same thing as ‘unfunny’, and also it was for children. But every so often there was something that only got funnier the more you thought about it.
In Horrible Histories, sketches were often based around a show-specific trope I call the Unremarkable Time Traveler. A sketch would be set in a modern day school, or hospital, or pet shop, or whatever, and the whole thing would revolve around someone from the past showing up and trying to get the modern people to do things the historical way. So an Ancient Greek doctor’s working at the hospital, or the school’s hired a Victorian headmaster, that sort of thing. The whole joke of these sketches is very British - it’s an Absurdity interacting with the Mundane, but the Mundane’s reactions to the Absurdity never address the core strangeness of the situation (i.e. an Ancient Athenian practicing medicine in a 21st century hospital), but instead only object to the inconveniences it causes (i.e. his outdated medical practices not working). You see this sort of thing all the time in British comedies, especially classic ones. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is built on this.
So when you first watch the Historical Paramedics sketches, you have every reason to believe that this is just another Unremarkable Time Traveler situation. Two guys claiming to be from the Stewart/Victorian/etc. era show up, try their weird old medicine on people, and leave. Except.
In the other Unremarkable Time Traveler cases, they’re never the same people. It’s different every time. But with the Paramedics, it’s always the same two guys. Now, you might say ‘hey, no! This show stars a troupe of character actors, they’re constantly doubling up on roles, it’s just the same actors playing different characters!’ To which I say no! Do not presume you know more than me about this! It is, without a doubt, the same two guys! Because the Historical Paramedics have names:
(They are also, apparently, a couple)
Horrible Histories has tonnes of running characters that transcend era, but most of them are modern-era characters (Mike Peabody, Cliff Whiteley, the host of Historical Fashion Fix, etc.) who talk about or interact with the Time Travelers, or in Mike’s case, are themselves Time Travelers. The Grim Reaper, as an immortal being, is basically the only exception (and I guess the Shouty Man, but he’s really just a representation of a concept). Which makes Jeff and Nigel a bit of an anomaly, being named, recurring characters… from all manner of historical eras. What’s up with that?
Perhaps they are immortals, like the Grim Reaper, living through all of history, but popping in and out of our modern era from time to time, by whatever method the other Time Travelers also use? Could be, but I don’t think so. Jeff and Nigel are uniquely aware that their actions are not appreciated in the modern era, as demonstrated by the fact that they always run away before the real paramedics arrive. So I propose a different theory:
The Historical Paramedics are actually modern-era characters.
Jeff and Nigel are not Unremarkable Time Travelers. They are, in fact, history enthusiasts who have always lived in the late 20th/early 21st century, have somehow got their hands on an ambulance scanner, and, instead of handing it in to the authorities, are using it to harass the sick and injured while wearing silly costumes.
In other words, these two are perhaps the truest embodiments of Be Gay, Do Crime in all of televised media.
This show was so great, you guys.
(It is, admittedly, the tiniest, slightest bit possible that none of this was intentional and I have brainrot. But I don’t think that’s the case, do you? And even if it is, this idea still makes an already funny sketch that much funnier, doesn’t it? Yes. Of course it does. I knew you’d understand.)
I just realised yet another little detail that symbolises so much in the story!
During Dos Orugitas, we see a young Alma Madrigal that seemed to be cheerful, playful and even a little clumsy. The braided hair, the frilly dress and the big smiles help create an image of her as a sweet, carefree young woman who was not afraid to just be herself.
Once the tragedy with Pedro happens and the miracle is born, Alma immediately takes shelter in casita and we see her alone, silently processing the events of the evening; looking extremely weary, lonely and traumatised. She looks down at her babies. Her Julieta, her Pepa and her Brunito, and her expression changes. She knows she needs to be strong for them. She’s resolute, but there’s a sadness in her eyes that says she knows what this means for her, too. She can never go back to the woman she used to be.
The next time we see Alma, she is putting on a black cloak and leaving the room. This room was the cocoon where she transformed into a new person, leaving her old self behind. She’s become different. Her smile doesn’t quite meet her eyes anymore. She looks tired, somber. Older, even.
There’s a shadow, a trauma she’s carrying that soon takes form in the perfectionism and control that eventually hurt her loved ones. This event shapes the way she deals with challenges from this moment on, and she is always in fear of the family losing their home once again.
She became harsh. Strict. Everything has to be perfect in order to protect and earn the miracle the love of her life granted their family with his noble sacrifice.
This is an incredibly strong woman who has been through hell and came out alive, for her family’s sake. This black cloak follows her from her young years to her old age, and becomes a constant throughout the movie. It represents the weight and the burden of the grief she silently carried ever since that moment, and will continue to carry for the rest of her life. It represents the change she had to go through, putting her emotions last in order to become the strong matriarch her kids and the village needed. It represents the loss of not only her beloved Pedro, but also of her innocence, her youth, her laughter and her smile.
From the moment young Alma Madrigal and her children were gifted a miracle, she became the one responsible for the whole village. She, as the only one blessed with the magic and the one whose gift repelled the enemies, was naturally placed in a position of power and leadership in the worst moment of her life.
It’s likely she was the one everyone immediately looked to for directions right after the miracle happened, and that she had to leave her feelings behind to help other lost and grieving people rebuild their lives and their homes, creating what the village of Encanto eventually became. She put everyone else first. She was extremely selfless.
Alma Madrigal is such a complex character. There are so many layers to her personality. This is why you guys can’t just write her off as a villain or as a horrible person/grandmother. It’s not so black and white.
My brain always seems to function best at midnight so this popped into my head last night
Thoughts on possibly an upcoming fic?
Opening to closure
The wedding anniversary of Alma and Pedro is approaching and Julieta has an idea of something special to do.
She pitches the idea to the adults, who then tell the children and they agree to it.
They also tell the townspeople and they promise to do their best managing their own chores for that day so the Madrigals can enjoy the anniversary.
On the day, as Abuela goes down for breakfast, she notices there are more ingredients than usual on the counter. She asks Julieta about them and she lies terribly, struggling to get through that she put them there by accident.
Mirabel luckily saves her.
As they go out to help the community, Abuela notices that they're doing a lot more for themselves than usual. She isn't complaining but is surprised to see it all.
Towards midday, she notices that she isn't seeing much of her family. She tries to find them but is unsuccessful.
Suddenly, she sees and recognises Antonio's toucan. So she follows it and it leads her to the river where Abuelo Pedro passed away.
She is no longer following the toucan and instead starts walking her own path, tentatively nearing the river.
She hesitates before pushing back a big leaf that she could have sworn wasn't originally there previously. And suddenly she sees a picnic area set up on the grass next to the river.
She walks closer to it and the entire family surprise her.
Abuela cries at the sight of it all as Julieta Bruno and Pepa explain their plan. She hugs them and then brings the entire family for one big group hug.
They then go to start eating.
At one point, Antonio Camilo and Mirabel are playing together in the river and they call for more people to join them.
Pepa Felix Luisa and Augustín join them without hesitation whilst Bruno Julieta and Isabela stay with Abuela.
They all splash in the water together as the other laugh at them having fun.
It starts off with Antonio accidentally splashing Mirabel who retaliates and then accidentally absolutely soaks Camilo. In response he does the same but gets not only them both, but his mama too.
Felix and Augustín laugh at her and the rain cloud that forms above her and doesn't help at all. In response, she moves her cloud over and drenches them too.
The group carry on splashing each other. Pepa then calls to her brother insisting that he comes in.
Bruno refuses but Isabela lifts him with a giant leaf and slides him into the river with them.
They all laugh as he falls. Felix mocks him playfully saying that he should have seen it coming since he can see the future and all.
Bruno retaliates by kicking water straight at him and the group carries on.
Minutes later, they all come out of the water and Julieta gives them all towels to put over themselves.
Before they leave however, they allow Abuela a moment at the river before they go.
She says a few words to her Pedro, thanking for him for blessing her with what she has now. Her only regret is that he wasn't able to experience it all with her.
With that, she finally feels like she has found closure with everything and leaves with tear stained cheeks, but a lighter heart.
She returns to see her 3 children, smiling at her warmly and she embraces them all, not caring that two of them are soaking wet and a little cold.
Softly, she says, "Let's go home." And they do.
Also I'm really close to finishing my Antonio and Camilo fic I'm rly excited for you guys to see that one
So, I keep seeing ωĥīṬÉ ⚪️washed fanart of the Madrigal family and it’s driving me up the wall in frustration. Please spread this. And, of course, feel free to use this and share it! You can also repost this as long as you source! Thank you! 🙏
(Also, I love Bruno, didn’t mean to leave him out—I hope to do Bruno later—but I was too tired to edit him into the family portrait today)