Different people have different definitions of what constitutes a spoiler. So very mild spoiler warning I guess.
If you haven’t already heard, Netflix’s She-Ra: Princesses of Power reboot finished airing after 5 seasons back in May. After having it recommended to me I cautiously decided to give it a go once the show had wrapped up. Taking place on the magical planet of Etheria, the land’s Princesses of various elements must fight for their home as the mysterious Horde empire violently expands. She-Ra is dope. I got hooked very quickly so now I’m going to talk about it.
Characters are the vessel we as the audience use when exploring a story. It doesn’t matter how amazing the story may be, if your company during the ride is bad it can ruin your whole trip. On the flip side, characters can make the whole journey worthwhile and that’s something She-Ra knows very well. Every character in the show is just incredibly loveable and bursting with personality. While for the most part character arcs are not necessarily complex or poetic, bar Catra, they are all empathetic and fairly satisfying. The way the cast bounce off each other is definitely the highlight of the show. I dare you to watch through She-Ra and not fall in love with at least one member of the best friend squad.
Something cool that She-Ra does right off the bat is humanising the “enemy”. Our lead, Adora, fights for the Horde at the beginning of season 1 until she quickly comes to realise the damage they are causing. This introduces a consistent theme throughout the show of there being good people on either side of any conflict and perceived evil may not be deliberate but rather the result of the circumstances of where you were born or where your environment takes you. For example, Scorpia isn’t a bad guy. She’s by far the most caring and selfless character in the show, however Scorpia just so happened to have grown up within the Horde and isn’t aware of a life outside of it. This creates an interesting dynamic between the two conflicting sides where I found myself routing for everyone, unsure of who I’d rather win in certain scenarios.
Of course I can’t talk about She-Ra’s characters and not talk about Catra’s arc. Catra is by far the most well written character in the show. Emotionally abused by a mother figure her whole life has made Catra cautious around other people. When her best friend Adora leaves the Horde to join the rebellion, Catra obviously feels betrayed. Unable to emotionally connect to others she desperately tries to seek adoration and respect through her authority. Tragically, when this fails Catra doubles down and ends up only perpetuating the cycle of emotional abuse she had been the victim of herself. The emotional instability of her character causes her to be destructive to others as well as herself and makes for a very cool villain for our heroes. At the same time Catra is the most sympathetic character and we are constantly reminded of the good that’s still in her as she’s constantly struggling to balance what is right and what is wrong. Like Darth Vader. But a cat. The resolution to Catra’s arc is also top notch, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Also just as a side note I really want to briefly mention how perfect She-Ra’s LGBT representation is. There is never any central conflict, drama or plot points that revolve around sexual preference or gender identity. Instead it’s all just completely normalised by having the characters be just passively accepting of it all. Some characters are just gay or non-binary without it being a personality trait or having much of an impact on the overall story. It just is what it is, just like in real life and I think that’s an admirable approach. Hopefully writers elsewhere can learn from this.
My only real complaint of She-Ra is that while the finale was satisfying and everything was mostly resolved there were still one or two character interactions that felt a bit rushed. Drama between certain characters was almost brushed off right at the end. I feel that maybe an extra 5-10 minute epilogue would have done wonders. But overall She-Ra: Princesses of Power was just as adorable, funny and wholesome as its’ cast. Would highly recommend.