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DukeOfEarlsfield

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

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I should probably point out that I am a Noelle Stevenson stan. Her debut comic, Nimona is one of the best graphic novels I've ever read and her subsequent work on the comics Lumberjanes, Runaways and the tv show Wander Over Yonder has all been superb. I love her work.

 

That said, her reboot of She-Ra isn't for me. I'm not a pre-teen girl and I don't have any nostalgic memories of being one, or the original She-Ra series. And this new series is very definitely aimed at one of those audiences.

 

The show follows childhood friends Adora and Catra, two women who have been raised within the Horde army and trained to be soldiers from birth to fight the Princesses of Etheria. But when Adora finds a magical sword, the two fall out and end up on different sides of the war.

 

The theme of the show is friendship and... yes, I know what your thinking, that means loads of scenes of characters talking about how everything's so much better if they stick together and believe in each other and...well, yes, there is a fair bit of that.

 

But...

 

It's not just a platitude that's slapped on to resolve every episode. The very best sci-fi stories use the genre to show how the world works. Shining a light on a particular power dynamic, whether that be capitalism, greed, politics...or friendship. Which is entirely appropriate for it's target audience as for school kids, friendship is the most valuable and most powerful force there is.

 

That falling out that I mentioned above...it powers everything in the entire show. The resulting bitterness, rejection and hurt is the engine for everything that happens over the course of it's four seasons so far. And it's explored in so many different ways, especially when it comes to the power dynamics of the Horde.

 

It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise from the writer of Nimona (a story about a teenage girl that can shapeshift into a monster, or possibly a monster that can shapeshift into a teenage girl) that the story really comes alive when the focus is on the bad guys. Every one of them has a backstory and motivation that is relatable, understandable and believable. Every one of them has been through a personal drama that is similar to something we've all been through or seen happen, usually at a young age. And as a result we can empathise with them and understand why they're doing what they're doing. Without, and this is where the real skill is, justifying what they are doing.

 

Giving complex motivations to villains is something of a vogue at the moment. But the danger is you end up treating those motivations with sympathy and don't fully explain why they're wrong. The Avenger's don't fight Thanos because his theories about over populations are fundamentally wrong, counter productive and the result of race supremacists. They fight him because he killed some of their friends. She-Ra and the Princessess of Power gives us bad guys who create weapons of mass-destruction, want to conquer the world, or (to quote a famous butler) "just want to watch the world burn". And even though we end up empathising with them, the show always counters with the actions of the good guys, who are reacting to similar problems but dealing with it in different ways. The bad guys are us, but still in the wrong.

 

 

And the story that is driven by that engine of friendship? What a story it is. What starts of as minor segment of a continental war escalates significantly over the course of the four series into what I think is possibly the grandest and ambitious space operas I've seen on tv in recent years. I mean, it really escalates in both scale and stakes.

 

 

The shows representation of non-stereotypical gender roles and LGBTQ issues is also quite extraordinary. Obviously, for a kids show, their are no 'relationships', only friendships. And yet it still manages to speak about issues related to LGBTQ kids whilst simultaneously normalizing their existence. It manages to have it's cake and eat it, whilst pretending that their wasn't a cake in the first place but it sure was delicious. It's bravura stuff at times.

 

 

Unfortunately, there are a few weak points. The animation is rather cheap. Although it does improve a lot after the first series. And because of it's target audience of young kids, some of the humour can be a bit grating. This isn't a 'family' show. It's a kids show and it makes no apologies for that.

 

 

Like I said at the start, this show isn't for me and yet the fifth series is released next month and I'm looking forward to this more than anything else in tv or film. If you want to check it out, it's on Netflix and I recommend you do, as it's easily one of the most ambitious shows on tv right now. And it's by far and away the best ever update of an eighties toy franchise.

 

Favourite character: Entrapta. Definitely

 

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I didn't like it the animation looked so flat and cheap I just couldn't get on with it.

 

Watch Hilda instead.

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I watched most of this as my daughter loves it and it’s great.

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On 13/04/2020 at 18:58, DukeOfEarlsfield said:

Favourite character: Entrapta. Definitely


YES.

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Actually, I’ll tell you what else I found surprisingly good if somewhat different - Carmen Sandiago.

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On 14/04/2020 at 23:00, deKay said:

Actually, I’ll tell you what else I found surprisingly good if somewhat different - Carmen Sandiago.

 

My daughter has enjoyed both. She can't say Carmen Sandiago though. It's very cute. :)

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I read ‘That said, her reboot of She-Ra isn't for me’ as meaning you didn’t like the show, and spent the rest of your excellent post wondering why you were raving over it then.

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18 hours ago, Stoppy2000 said:

It's also got a great theme song. 

 

well... on the edge of greatness perhaps?

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I can't wait for the next series, just need to stop my daughter binging it before we can watch it together. 

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Binged watched the entire series 5 today. Bloody hell it’s good.

 

I’ve never been a fan of

Spoiler

mind control as a plot device

as it’s far too much of a cliche but they just about avoided overdoing it and it worked well for giving the entire cast something to do all the time.

 

As for the ending…

Spoiler

I thought that was a clever but subtle twist on the ‘hero’s tale’ genre trope. The normal way that plays out is the reluctant hero realises their responsibilities and fulfils their destiny. But with this, Adora wants to save the day, she wants to fulfil her destiny. But she only does so because she realises that there’s a future beyond that which she wants.


Somebody needs to give Noelle Stevenson the reigns of a seriously large movie franchise because despite the budget and the young target audience this was funnier, smarter, more dramatic and heartfelt than either the Marvel or recent Star Wars sagas.

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Yup also binged this, very strong series. Not sure if it’s getting another? It feels pretty complete, so I’m unsure where they could logically take it. 
 

Spoiler

Loved that Catra finally confessed!

 

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Yup looks like this is done at five series, which is the right call but still makes me sad. An excellent series, the only plot hole that didn’t get explained is:

 

Spoiler

Catra killed Glimmers mother and there’s no discussion? She gets into the best friends club very quickly. 
 

I know that Catra, saves Glimmer from prime but surely they would at least talk about it?

 

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