Marvel's 'Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur' is a stone cold groove : Pop Culture Happy Hour Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is an all-ages animated series that's got style and energy – and original songs – for days. It's the story Black girl genius Lunella (voiced by Diamond White) who accidentally transports a T-Rex with the personality of a golden retriever from the prehistoric past to present day. She then launches into a side hustle fighting crime. The show is now streaming on Disney+.

Marvel's 'Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur' is a stone cold groove

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript



Marvel's "Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur" is an all-ages animated series that's got style and energy and original songs for days. It's the story of a 13-year-old Black girl genius living on Manhattan's Lower East Side. When one of her many gadgets accidentally transports a T-Rex with the personality of a golden retriever from the prehistoric past to present-day New York, she makes the most of it. She launches into a side hustle fighting crime on the streets of her beloved neighborhood. I'm Glen Weldon. And today we're talking about "Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur" on POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR.


WELDON: Joining me today is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday, Ayesha Rascoe. Hey. Welcome back, Ayesha.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Hey - glad to be here.

WELDON: Great to have you. In Marvel's "Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur," Diamond White voices young Lunella Lafayette. She lives on the Lower East Side and loves it. She loves a lot of things - her mom and dad, who own a roller disco. They're voiced by Sasheer Zamata and Jermaine Fowler. She loves her grandmother, voiced by Alfre Woodard. She loves coming up with incredibly advanced scientific inventions, including one that pulls a T-Rex named Devil Dinosaur into the modern world. He's voiced - or grunted - by Fred Tatasciore. Ever resourceful, Lunella adopts the identity of Moon Girl and patrols the streets of the LES. This is all unbeknownst to her very supportive family but extremely knownst (ph) to her very online friend, Casey, voiced by Libe Barer. Moon Girl's adventures feature a lot of eye-popping colors and dynamic animation that call to mind "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse." And like that movie, it's not tied to a lot of dense MCU continuity.

The series also features original songs by Raphael Saadiq - it's kind of a stealth musical - and guest stars that include Jennifer Hudson, Alison Brie, Daveed Diggs, Craig Robinson, Wesley Snipes, Andy Cohen and, most spectacularly, Laurence Fishburne, who is also an executive producer on the show. And not for nothing, the producers throw in an actual science lesson or two into every episode because Lunella is first and foremost a STEM queen. "Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur" airs on the Disney Channel and streams on Disney+. Ayesha, what did you think?

RASCOE: I loved it. You know, I watched some of it with my kids. They were totally into it. I'm totally into it because, as I've said, I love cartoons.


RASCOE: And I love any cartoon where there is a big animal who can't really talk but they can communicate. It just brings, like, the laughs - obviously, i.e., "Scooby-Doo."


RASCOE: And this reminded me a lot of Shaggy and Scooby, and that is a high compliment. In my life, that is a very high compliment. And I just love that it could have went, like, super-corny, but it's - like, it has these, like, just funny beats, like the second episode, where there's this troll who says she's got a big head. And all of a sudden, she's - you know, Moon Girl or Lunella is obsessed with, like, proving that he's wrong. And she does this whole video, and she wakes up Devil Dinosaur to tape it. And at the end, the Devil Dinosaur grunts. But basically, she translate - like, Michelle Obama?

WELDON: (Laughter).

RASCOE: Don't say it if it's not true (laughter).


DIAMOND WHITE: (As Lunella Lafayette) What'd you think? Maybe I should do it again but with more graphs.

FRED TATASCIORE: (As Devil Dinosaur, growling).

WHITE: (As Lunella Lafayette) Really? Are you sure?

TATASCIORE: (As Devil Dinosaur, growling).

WHITE: (As Lunella Lafayette) Don't tell it to me if it's not true. Like Michelle Obama?

RASCOE: Like, it's just funny. Like, one time he started talking about the dinosaur and the dinosaur wanted to type, but his arms are too short. I mean, it was just - there are laughs, genuine laughs. And, like, I really enjoyed it.

WELDON: Awesome, awesome because I also really love this show. You know how at the start of each episode you get that skip intro option? Show me a person who hits that button, and I'm going to show you a corpse because holy crap. That song is a bop.

RASCOE: It is.

WELDON: Let's listen to a little bit of it.


WHITE: (Rapping) Yeah, I have arrived, and me and my girls 'bout to dip and slide. Swerve. Better make way. Skrrt, skrrt (ph). I got rules to break. Working nonstop - now it's time to drop. Oh, honey. Boom. Cute, smart and clever.

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL GROUP: (Singing) If you didn't know it, now, now you know - Moon Girl magic.

WELDON: I mean, that song was made to skate backwards to in seventh grade. It's just - it's such a groove. I understand what you were saying about - 'cause you were worried it might be corny 'cause I went into it with the same trepidation because the energy is so high. It hits you right from the jump. And she is so plucky and sincere and enthusiastic, which is historically not my tempo. But this show - you said it. At the end of the day, it's so clever. And I don't mean that in a dismissive way in any way. I like the cleverness. It feels fresh. I like the writing. The writing, as you say, is sharp...


WELDON: ...Without feeling sweaty and try-hard and corny. Sometimes...


WELDON: ...With these shows...


WELDON: ...Especially kids' shows, you get this kind of vision of these old, cigar-chomping dudes in a room going, you know what the kids like is hula hoops.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

WELDON: We got to put some hula hoops in here.

RASCOE: Exactly. Yeah.

WELDON: You know, when it introduces the character of Casey, who is her, like, 13-year-old social media influencer friend, you kind of...


WELDON: ...Go into a defensive crouch because you're waiting for the lazy avocado toast jokes. Here they come. But she's actually really savvy and levelheaded and good at what she does. And what she does is given worth. You know, the animation, I mean, it's a joy to look at, this show. I love this animation style, which is really expressive.


WELDON: You know, it recalls graffiti. It kind of evokes Basquiat without feeling like it's some kind of soulless, corporate co-opting of it, which, it's Disney, so I guess in a - technically, it kind of is. But, I mean, we got to roll with it.

RASCOE: (Laughter) And it's like a comic book, in a way.

WELDON: Yeah, absolutely.

RASCOE: Right? Like, it gets the spirit of, like, a fun comic for the younger generation - right? - like, this fun comic feel to it, right?

WELDON: Definitely. Definitely. I also love playing the game where - which of my favorite actors is that voice that I'm hearing right now?

RASCOE: (Laughter) There was - I never could get the voices.

WELDON: Oh, man.

RASCOE: Like, I would be like, oh, my - like, I know that voice from somewhere. That's definitely someone famous.

WELDON: And, you know, everybody who comes on the show, I just love how game they all are 'cause they're meeting the show at that high-energy level because that's the bar the show is set at. You know, as a nerd, I love that we get nods to the great old Marvel universe, but, like, this is strictly about the everyday stakes of this extremely idealized, Ayesha, Lower East Side, where it's all...

RASCOE: (Laughter).

WELDON: ...Mom-and-pop bodegas and indie bookstores, and there's not a Duane Reade anywhere to be found, but...

RASCOE: Yes, it's a very idealistic place. And I was wondering - I'm like, is this what the Lower East Side is like?

WELDON: (Laughter).

RASCOE: I don't - is it (laughter)?

WELDON: Short answer, no - maybe at one point. And it's just fun to remind yourself that you can do street-level superhero but not do it grim and gritty. This is about as far away from grim and gritty as it is possible to get. Mostly, I just think it's really smart and really fun. It just won me over completely. Do you have a favorite episode?

RASCOE: So, I mean, I love the troll episode. That's the one that I come...


RASCOE: ...Back to. And obviously, I really loved the hair episode. And I do think it does kind of include these, like, this is a message, but I thought they did it very well where she got her natural hair, which is big and in Afro puffs, kind of got dissed, and she's like, OK, well, can I straighten it? But she tries to find this other way to straighten it. And then the hair takes on a life of its own. All her hair falls out.

I felt like that is a story that, obviously, as a Black woman with Black daughters who deal with their hair, like, that is a message that I want to see. But it was also just the way they did it. Like, when she finally told them, like, my hair fell out, and they talked to her about, like, going through and wanting to change their hair and figuring out how to love their hair and love themselves. And, like, it could be cheesy, but I felt like they did it in such a way that it was really good. And then the way the hair was attacking everybody (laughter)...

WELDON: Yep. Yep.

RASCOE: It was like - it was just - and I love Casey because Casey really reminds me of my 6-year-old, who is - very much wants to be a TikTok star, wants to say, like and subscribe...


RASCOE: ...Is very into that. But obviously, very smart and very - like, to do that, you have to be a people person. You have to be able to talk to people. You have to be able to connect. And, like, so I just love that part of it.

WELDON: Yeah. And the lesson she learns in that episode - you're exactly right, Ayesha. On paper, it's cringe. It's on the nose. But the way it's executed, I actually think that episode might do some, like, capital-G good in the capital-W world. I think...


WELDON: ...It's good that it's out there, I think.

RASCOE: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. I mean, because people go through that. I mean, even my daughters, I have to tell them - they're like, oh, I like it straight. I'm like, no, your hair is fine the way it is.

WELDON: (Laughter).

RASCOE: It's a thing. So I love that that is there. And my daughters do talk about her hair. They're like, how many puffs does she has? Is it one or two? Like, they are into it. They notice it, and they see it, and it matters.

WELDON: And that episode with the internet troll, who was an actual troll because of course he is - story checks out - I mean, that has a lesson, too. And it's an effective lesson...

RASCOE: (Laughter) Yes.

WELDON: ...Which is just to just...


WELDON: ...Let it roll off you.

RASCOE: Don't feed the trolls.

WELDON: Don't feed the trolls.

RASCOE: Don't feed the trolls, yeah.

WELDON: But that episode also features some of my favorite animation here. And it's the animated acting that I keep coming back to. The voice acting is great, but the way the show is depicted, is drawn - like, the facial expressions, the body language and the way, as you mentioned, you can impute everything that Devil Dinosaur is always thinking just by looking at him.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

WELDON: In the episode with the internet troll, the troll says that Moon Girl's got a big head, and she says to Devil Dinosaur, I don't have a big head, right? And for half a second, Devil Dinosaur gets this expression on his face. It's that, well, kind of expression. And just how it is depicted made me laugh.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Yes.

WELDON: I like that we're kind of inviting an anime influence into the show, but we're not simply just aping it. We're not simply reproducing anime. We're kind of making something fresh, something new. You know what else I like? Lunella is smart, and she knows it.


WELDON: She's proud of it.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

WELDON: And sometimes that pride...


WELDON: ...Kind of splashes over into smug. We see her - whenever she gets the most upset, the most angry, the most incensed is when something is preventing her from showing everyone how smart she is. Let me just say, representation matters.


WELDON: And so even us horrible people can find something to relate to in this girl.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Yeah. I mean, and the thing about this that I also took to is, like, at first it doesn't seem like Lunella had any friends. And Casey - they didn't have friends, right? Like, they were kind of the weird, awkward people who were very - and, like, look. I can definitely relate to being the girl who's very good in school, very smart, ain't got no friends. Like, they come together, and then they have this sisterhood together. Like, I enjoyed that. And, like, yeah, she leans into it. Like, I'm smart. I know what I'm talking about. I can do these things. Also, like, I will try to beat everybody in a game. Like, I'm very hypercompetitive. That's another character trait that I love in characters, which - bringing it back to another show that I really love, "The Golden Girls," most people...


RASCOE: ...May not know Rose was very competitive. She was.

WELDON: Sure, sure, sure.

RASCOE: She wanted to win. I love when they bring that out in a character, where it's like, I want to win, and I don't care what happens. I'm going to win.

WELDON: Yep, definitely. And another thing - we mentioned at the top this music. It took me a couple episodes to realize we were going to get an in-universe song pretty much every episode. Now I'm looking forward to it.


WELDON: It's like the fight scenes in "Batman" '66, you know?


WELDON: I just wait for it. It's like, when's it coming?


WELDON: I know it's coming.


WELDON: When is it? What do you think of the music?

RASCOE: Like, so that was when I really - you know, I'm watching the show. I'm like, this seems pretty good. This seems pretty good. Then when they got - in the first episode, when they dropped the beat and they start fighting with the song, I'm like, oh, this song is so good. Like, look at this. Like, I feel like it takes it to another level.

WELDON: Oh, yeah.

RASCOE: Like, you mentioned "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse." Like, obviously, the music in that movie is part of what made it so incredible. It was, like - and we - in our house, we're still listening to that soundtrack.

WELDON: Oh, my God. Yeah.

RASCOE: Like (laughter) - so it's like, you know, like I said. Everybody knows I got a lot of kids. So we listen to a lot of music from Disney stuff, and not all of it's good. Not all of it's good.


RASCOE: We listening to a lot - so I appreciate when you can introduce music that is a little more high-quality because we get a lot of stuff that my kids are listening to that I got to deal with. So this is better. And so I appreciate that.

WELDON: And these drops - sometimes they kind of obliquely refer to what's going on in the episode.

RASCOE: Yes. No.

WELDON: But they're not book numbers, as we say in theater. They're not, like, strictly just driving the plot. They're also just grooves and original songs, as we mentioned, by Raphael Saadiq. And in the sixth episode, Laurence Fishburne, who's been kind of voiceover guy, gets to be a character. We won't say which one, but it's an in-canon Marvel universe character. And he's got a song, and he just nails it. He knocks it out of the park.


LAURENCE FISHBURNE: (As The Beyonder, singing) Congrats on your promotion. Let's get this thing in motion. There's so much for me to understand. You're welcome, Lunella. Now it's time to help this fella decide to the fate of...

RASCOE: Yeah. Like, and that was so fun. And that character was just out of this world.

WELDON: Yes, he was.

RASCOE: (Laughter) He was out of this world.

WELDON: Yes, he was.

RASCOE: And, like, it does bring something, like, when they can bring the music in. The way they incorporate it, it just heightens where the plot is going instead of getting in the way.

WELDON: Yep. And you'll also want to stay for the credits because, like "Bob's Burgers" does, if something is happening musically in the episode, it's echoed in the credits. You can see some of the characters dancing some of the same way.

RASCOE: What do you think about the roller skating? - because that's a big part of this and a big part of the groove because they own a roller skating rink.


RASCOE: And, like, I think that part of it is - comes, like, from this cool, chill, like, roller skating with your friends - now, I can't do it anymore because I'm too old.


RASCOE: And I almost, you know, killed myself the last time I did it. But when I was young - and with the music, like, I feel like it almost has that kind of flow to it.

WELDON: It just makes me worry about their rent because a roller disco is huge on the Lower East Side, and I hope they're making money.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

WELDON: I hope they're charging a lot because...

RASCOE: A lot of money...

WELDON: ...Because man.

RASCOE: ...To stay open and to, you know, keep making that popcorn and all of that.

WELDON: But you can just picture yourself just roller...


WELDON: ...Discoing to this music 'cause it's so groovy. It's such a groove.

RASCOE: Oh, yeah.

WELDON: Well, we want to know what you think about "Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur." I think you might have gleaned that we like it. Find us at And that brings us to the end of our show. Ayesha Rascoe, thanks so much for being here - always a pleasure.

RASCOE: Thanks for having me, like, especially talking about this. I really love this.

WELDON: We want to take a moment to thank our POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR+ subscribers. We appreciate you so much for showing your support of NPR. If you haven't signed up yet and want to show your support and listen to this show without any sponsor breaks at all, head over to, or visit the link in our show notes. This episode was produced by Hafsa Fathima and edited by Mike Katzif. Our supervising producer is Jessica Reedy, and Hello Come In provides our theme music, which you are skating backwards to right now. Thank you for listening to POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR. I'm Glen Weldon, and we'll see you all tomorrow.


Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.