It’s She-Ra (CLAP CLAP) she’s a hero (CLAP CLAP). This is the wrong Sunday morning cartoon. Welcome to She-Ra and the Princesses of Politics a show that no matter what opinion you hold, countless people will hate you. I’ve heard the perspective from the detractors, and I’ve listened to the defenders and I’ve watched the show and allowed my own opinion to form. With all of that, in my review that won’t really bother with the controversy, I will share my opinion that She-Ra is… “decent”.
My Biggest Problem
For me, the biggest fault with this show is the storytelling, more specifically the pacing. Essentially, She-Ra is a typical journey narrative: a squad of comrades or friends embark on a quest and have episodic adventures that continually is an excuse to embark expeditions introducing new characters and settings while a larger goal or mission is motivating the characters as the set-up. She-Ra has admittedly a good set-up to work with: The bad guys are powerful and when the new hero arises it is time to reassembly NATO to oppose the Sith Lords. It’s a good,simple premise that does leave potential for characters to introduce in the future and a lot of fun explorations to be had across this fantasyland except She-Ra has no interest in making this journey as fun as it can be.
What this adventure was really missing was a snag or any kind of struggle that impeded progress of the overall mission. The easiest comparison would be to the Pokémon anime.
Imagine if every episode was just gym battles. Sure it would have been interesting to see all of these cool, unique gym leaders but I’m sure many fans would agree that there favorite episodes were episodes such as: When Ash saves an abandoned charmander’s flame from going out, when Ash has to say goodbye to Butterfree,or when Ash has to decide whether he will evolve his Pikachu or even episodes revolved around the hijinks of Team Rocket. There are many different variations of how to tell these journey arcs something like Avatar: The Last Airbender only had 4 locations but spend entire seasons exploring each one. It’s like they say, “it’s the journey not the destination” but it seems like She-Ra liked the saying that “the best way to reach a destination is to go in a straight line” more. To me, in my personal opinion it took a lot of the interest in the locations away because of how brief they came and went. It was also a shame because they had good plots that should have been expanded on.
I think when Adora and friends comes across a that village of pacifistic celebrating deer people and the going to the tavern to find a ship captain both hold enough merit to be fully fleshed out episodes instead of being delegated to quick half-episode scenes. It all just felt like the show needed the formula as a crutch and I’m curious when the inevitable season two comes if it knows how to keep the story going now that they introduced everyone and how does the stakes get raised after they’ve already prevented a global crisis already. I’m sure this would have added in some of the controversy the show bares, as instead of just bombarding the audience with redesigns of all the characters, adding a story or character or some element that doesn’t fully piggy-back on the old property. Maybe that succinctly puts what my issue with it is, that it wants the creative protection of being “its own thing” but it doesn’t produce much that is its own thing…just alterations of the previous show.
Now let’s discuss characters…not character design. The cast of this show has the dynamic range of personalities of a Barbie Princess special. The main cast is all the same shades of an upbeat, overly positive personality with various tinges of quirkiness. The minor cast all have one note personalities which given how much they focus on them that is completely fine. You understand who this person is immediately and for the time being that all you really need to get from them.
Character always comes out of conflict, and this show does a nice job of that. The internal conflicts these character go through: accepting responsibility as a hero, living up to a legacy, and letting your friends down in crucial moments are all great emotional struggles that, while I can see why others are annoyed that it mostly results in crying, there is inner turmoil that the characters must overcome to take the mantle of hero they reach at their end goal. The show’s strong grasp on inner struggle is probably why Catra is one of the most compelling characters the show has to offer. What initially starts off as some cross between the personality of Amethyst from Steven Universe and the role of some Shadow the Hedgehog, Kylo Ren antithesis to the main protagonist spurs into a character so bitter from betrayal and jealousy that they become a super badass that is motivated to take down anyone who’s looked-down on her in the past. She’s one of the only characters in the series that is motivated by their own agenda, following their own moral compass.
The issue these characters have is the lack of, or misrepresentation of external conflict. Since almost all conflicts in the show seem to result in the “dark knight of the soul” moment where are hero recuperates from having lost all hope and learns to overcome the threat, all the conflicts in the show lack severity. Whether it is: the entire planet being hacked, a terrorist act on a peaceful charter, character power glitches, an average attack from the horde, or She-Ra causes a riot in the town they all have the same amount of tension cast over them. At least in the exception of the princess prom episodes that the characters do suffer consequence, reminding us of the stakes.
At the end of the day, it is only season 1 and characters will have room to grow and expand in the future…hopefully. If the goal is to sell toys, I do think the character diversity casts a wider net of personally connecting through design but can see children having difficulty personally establishing a deep connection with rather shallow character types.
She-Ra is very thin entertainment, I think the creators behind it were inspired by the concept of this fantasy world and these characters of warrior princesses, but it just doesn’t come across as being this great story wanting to be told. I’m one to stray away from number ratings as I believe you should take the criticism and praises I give something and distinguish their validity and how much you want to value them. However, since with this show a lot of people have despite providing reasonable critics still affirm it’s a 10/10… I’m not going to be one of those people.
Despite being probably hated on by both sides, She-Ra the Princesses of Power is a 5/10 or a 6/10. I think fans of the original have been treated extremely unfairly and their grievances with how facelifted this show is from the original is justifiable. The creators and animators of this show also are probably being treated unfairly as they were probably just given an amazing opportunity to advance their career and boost their resume while putting something out there with a positive message… and everyone hates you for it.
I think all this proves is that controversy equals ratings… I’m sure now that it’s a proven business model I’m sure it will never happen again. It also just proves everyone hates everyone on the internet. So, buzz of bird brains, definitely don’t be a nice person and follow or like cause I hate you wasting your time reading this. Don’t bother me telling me who your favorite character was or what you thought of the new She-Ra because I’ll just tell you to shut up you stupid loser. My favorite character was Kid Icarus Uprising. That’s it go away, and I hope I’ll never see you again… at the movies.
For more on She-RA I would recommend checking out the following (CLAP CLAP):
Image is from: She-Ra Princesses of Power credit: Dreamworks/Netflix color palette edit by K.