On the March 27 episode of the Wizards of Waverly Pod podcast, the original Wizards of Waverly Place showrunner, Peter Murrieta, revealed that the writing team had originally wanted Alex (played by Selena Gomez) and Stevie (played by Hayley Kiyoko) to be a couple.
Murrieta was the showrunner for Wizards of Waverly Place from 2007-2010, which covered the show’s first three seasons. Kiyoko’s Stevie debuts in a four-episode arc during the latter portion of the third season, first appearing in S3E11, “Detention Election.” Stevie and Alex have a lot in common — both being mischievous troublemakers — which made them an almost instant dynamic duo in Wizards of Waverly Place, despite Stevie’s ultimately short time on the show.
“I wished we could have played more with what was quite obvious to a lot of us, which was the relationship between Stevie and Alex,” Murrieta said on Wizards of Waverly Pod. “We weren’t able to in that time, but it was pretty clear to all of us what that relationship was. That would have been fun.”
Disney’s relationship with visibly queer characters in its shows and movies has always been fraught, and was basically non-existent when WOWP was originally running.
“If it was just a few years down the line, we maybe could have played with that,” podcast host Jennifer Stone said on the show.
Co-host David DeLuise also acknowledged that “nowadays that could happen.”
The animation and children’s programming giant has recently gotten more progressive, showing off LGBTQ+ characters in recent films like Strange World and TV shows like Raven’s Home, lending credence to the idea that the relationship between Stevie and Alex on Wizards of Waverly Place may have turned out differently had the show aired a few years later.
That said, it’s not exactly surprising that Disney would have quashed LGBTQ+ content in one of its most popular shows at the time, as the company has a history of being fairly strict with its censorship. Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch made a video detailing the various notes he was given from Disney’s censors while working on the show, including removing the word “chub” from a joke about a fat dog, to drastically paring down the on-screen relationship between Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland.