There were a bunch of times when I wanted to return–when I considered writing posts about whatever sparked my interest. But nothing really pushed me like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power did. Not because I’m an insane person who thinks the show is bad . . .
. . . but because the angry, trolling manlings of the internet really came out in full force for this show–a reboot of a cartoon from the 80’s that was never made for them in the first place. Seriously, the unbridled privilege in action there is astounding.
So I thought, “I watched the first two episodes, and I liked them. Why not make a whole viewing journal, written as I watch the rest of the season, so I can dish on the stupid incels who hate anything remotely progressive or feminist, while talking about what the show does right and wrong?” And here we are. Full disclosure, I originally planned to make this one huge post–for the entire series–but I quickly realized that would be insane, so, instead, I’m going episode by episode (or potentially arc by arc [I’m playing it by ear]).
*Disclaimer Though: Seriously, I criticize absolutely everything. It’s just what I do. I expect the incels to already be gone at this point, but if you don’t want to see this series honestly criticized for the things it genuinely does wrong, you should probably leave as well. I like it–I don’t watch TV shows I don’t like–but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of criticisms to make. Why make those criticisms at all, you ask? Because I’m a writer. Because maybe you are too. Why shouldn’t we be able to critique this show that’s great–but flawed–and aspire to make our own work better?
Episode 1 – “The Sword Part 1”
- (1:00) First thing–what I saw a bunch from the incels was that the animation was terrible. We’re ten seconds in, and, hey, incels what in the fat hell are you talking about? I get that there are some small animation errors here and there, but there are with every animated show. This is very obviously high-quality from the get-go.
- (4:50) Goddammit, Shadow Weaver looks awesome. One of those times I wish I’d designed a character.
- (4:51) Here’s where they revealed that Adora is a soldier for Hordak, something I absolutely fucking love, because it sets the show up to transcend the “one-a the guys” feminism of comics or other shows. Adora starts off the series being the no-nonsense, sparkle-free, princess-hating super soldier that most feminist characters are–characters who I’ve grown to think of as “one-a the guys.” Obviously, “one-a the guys” female characters are far better than hyper-sexualized, man-focused female characters, but there’s still room for improvement. “One-a the guys” are still geared to be relatable to men, and that’s always weird to me.
Anyway, I digress. My original point: it’s interesting how Adora starts off this show as “one-a the guys” while she’s working for Hordak, who lies to her about who she is and what she’s supposed to want.
I’m really hoping this show did that intentionally, and that it proceeds to promote being girly and being strong at the same time–as opposed to either being a woman who is tough, never acts girly, and has sex only with other women (ya know, things that are obviously not bad on their own, but that are very often bundled into the “strong female” archetype), or a woman who acts girly, and is either obsessed with a man, or needs to be saved by one.
Again, I’m not sure that She-Ra is actually eschewing the “one-a the guys” thing, but it seems to be with this exposition, and I hope it is. Because we need strong, female characters who exist somewhere in the middle of the “girly damsel”-and-“perfect, man-like ultra-badass” spectrum.
- (9:11) Kinda weird how these Dreamworks shows keep starting with protagonists–who are training in the military–stealing a speeder . . .
- (10:43) . . . and then, while joyriding in it, finding the show’s macguffin by accident.
- (12:20) Having watched a few episodes of the original show years ago, one of the things I was super curious about was whether or not Bow would still have giant red hearts on his outfit. I love that he still does.
- (14:19) Oh no–no, no, no, no. I don’t like this weird, Catra sleeping at Adora’s feet, on her bed, thing, and it’s not–I repeat, it’s not–because I’m some kind of stupid homophobe. No, there’s just something really, really gross about it, from a friends-perspective.
Never, ever be such a shitty friend that you let your bestie degrade themselves for you. Seriously, I know it’s small–I know that they were trying to do a cute thing with her being a cat–but this moment has the potential to foster really bad interpersonal habits. Seeing the protagonist sleeping while her friend sleeps at her feet, like an animal, probably gave a bunch of kids the wrong idea about how devoted a best friend could be.
- (17:07) “Light Hope.” I . . . love how unapologetic they are about sticking to all of the original names.
- (20:25) Okay. It’s about time to talk about it.
This show . . . absolutely, 100% has White Savior Syndrome.
That is the massive flaw of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. There are characters from different races, but they all play second-fiddle to a pretty, white protagonist who has shining, blonde hair and glowing, blue eyes when she uses her powers. She-Ra looks great, but she fosters a trend I’ve seen of empowering white women . . . at the expense of minorities–the result of creators saying, “Well, we want to be forward-thinking . . . but we don’t want to make the protagonist a minority!”
This scene, with Adora being shown a town destroyed by Hordak’s forces, embodies that white savior vibe perfectly.
The white protagonist is shown how these poor, othered minorities are losing their war. If only there was a strong white woman, privileged with the power to be better than all of them–by right of just being born–who could save them all!
Maybe that trend sticks out to me because I am a minority, but this show will forever be an example of it. I’m sure it’s well-intentioned, but it’s weird that Catra, Glimmer, Bow–they’re all nice and tanned . . . while Adora and the queen, Angella, are fair-skinned.
- (22:09-22:30) Light Hope: “Adora . . . will you fight for the honor of Grayskull?”
Adora: “For the honor . . . of Grayskull!”
The writers could’ve made that smoother.
Look, I’m a fantasy writer. And a very, very intense self-editor. Things need to sound natural.
That did not sound natural at all.
Light Hope asks our protagonist a question, and she’s all, “Yes, I will! But I’m not going to actually say yes, even! I’m just going to say the catchphrase that I suddenly know! Or, like, I’m just gonna repeat the last part of that full question you just asked! For no particular reason, really! I’m not even gonna be like, ‘Wait, what’s Greyskull?’”
Just sayin’, you get one chance to make a moment like that perfect. One chance to bring She-Ra back and make it absolutely seamless. But that one moment–which should have been flawless, even if the rest of the show wasn’t–was messy.
- (22:44) She-Ra really does look so awesome though. She triggers such a child-like awe in me. I’m a man in my mid-30’s, watching her transformation like, “Whoa-a-a-a-a. Her hair is so pretty!”
Episode 2 – “The Sword Part 2”
- (1:12) Such a good move making Adora unable to control her She-Ra powers. Giving protagonists a learning curve for their power set is always great when those powers are crazy.
- (8:07) They’ve been mentioning it for a while, but I appreciate that Glimmer also has a learning curve with her powers. It gives her some obvious room to grow, and I assume that, like Adora, she’ll grow as a person as she gets more powerful.
- (8:14) I sure hope that Bow, who seems to already be an expert with his bow, gets the same treatment. I sure hope that, in this show that’s trying to be progressive, we don’t have a male character who’s just static comedy relief. His growth wouldn’t need to be tied to his powers, of course, but it would be kind of shit if he was just there to make the funnies. Ju-u-u-u-ust sayin’.
- (10:18) This scene . . . really annoyed me.
Shadow Weaver: “Where is Adora!?”
Catra: “For the last time, I don’t know! . . .”
Shadow Weaver: “. . . Have it your way. I already know where she is. We’ve been tracking her.”
Me: . . .
Catra: “Uh, then why’d you ask me?”
Shadow Weaver: “Because you’re going to get her back!”
Me: That makes . . . zero sense.
Don’t send some new, badass, genuinely threatening villain to capture Adora. Don’t create drama by having Catra intervene somehow.
No, just send the one under-performing warrior-in-training, who has clear issues with authority, to do it.
I always hate contrivances, but I especially hate them when they require characters to make incredibly stupid choices.
- (11:04) Interesting how, even on this show, set in a really sparkly world with lots of pinks and purples, our magical girl protagonist hates pink flowers.
Do ya . . . Do ya see what I was talking about earlier? Isn’t it weird that this show is designed to appeal to people who like bright colors and sparkly transformations, but the protagonist hates that shit cause writing trends dictate that she should?
Maybe I was wrong about that “one-a the guys” thing, but I’m still hoping Adora changes as the series progresses. I’m hoping this is more of an “I was raised by Hordak to hate those things” kind of situation. I mean, Adora does lose it when she sees a horse for the first time, and loving horses is traditionally a girly girl thing.
- (11:52) Ahhhh . . . C-Cool. The minority people in this town are, like, half-animals . . .
. . . Cool.
Yeah, ya know the way Catra, Adora’s best friend who has tanned skin and sleeps at her feet like a fucking animal, is, in fact, part animal?
Yeah, these other tanned-skinned people are animals too.
just . . . just great
- (16:30) I haven’t seen past this episode yet, so I have no idea how this Catra / Adora friendship thing plays out. She-Ra is a Dreamworks animation, and they are awesomely brazen with the sexual diversity of their characters, so I genuinely have no idea if they become a thing or not. Either way though, here’s how I feel about this:
If Adora and Catra are friends, I like the friends angle, but I hope there’s some actual romance somewhere else in the story. Whether it’s with a male character or a female character, it would be cool to see the tough, boss-bitch character at least invest time into a romance.
If Adora and Catra are more than friends, that would lean into the “one-a the guys” trend, but it would still be awesome if it got into the emotions of the relationship (instead of the comic book approach of showing the two hot chicks naked in bed together and that’s it–not like this show would do that anyway). If I got to see the relationship that was denied me with Korra and Asami (and which is still being denied me with Shiro and Keith [#keiro]), I’d be happy.
- (19:26) Holy shit! There’s a magical girl transformation! A-a-a-and it’s legit as fuck!
- (20:20) Yo, can we take a moment to acknowledge that Bow was straight-up just ready to die fighting the Horde right here? That’s . . . That’s fucking awesome. This dude was just ready to die saving people–in the second episode. Nobody gonna talk about that? . . . No? . . . It was just posed as comic relief? . . .
- (20:45) I’m sure the incels would whine about She-Ra being OP and immediately knowing how to use her powers, but she clearly dips into something like the Avatar State here, where she’s amazing and terrifying, and I love that. It does make things convenient for writers, yes, but there’s also something rad about your protagonist going mute, growing 4 feet taller, and having giant, golden hair that’s awesome (just fucking try to come at me about that last part when y’all motherfuckers know you love Dragonball).
*I watched ahead a bit . . . More about this topic next time.
Anyway, that’s all for now. Thanks for dropping by! I don’t update on a regular schedule; I’m a man trying to get his life in order and get published at the same time, so posting on this site is limited to whenever I have time and really, really don’t want to write. Or just relax.
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3 thoughts on “A Writer Watching: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power – Episodes 1 & 2”
I appreciate that you both responded to the incel community and still viewed this from a lens of fair judgement. Finding what is right and wrong in the show–like the white savior syndrome you point out–shows you can support something you enjoy but still hold it accountable. I enjoyed this post immensely.
Whoa. Thank you, dude. It feels great to get affirmation on this one, cause it feels weird to point out missteps in a show like She-Ra, which is trying so hard to do so many things right (and succeeding). I was seriously just considering an “I think I’m not gonna talk about this show anymore, cause I feel bad” post, but you’ve inspired me to stick to my goddamn guns instead. Thanks again, man!