By now, you’ve probably heard about the She-Ra reboot, and by now, you probably know that it’s getting pretty favorable reception!
By now, you’ve probably already guessed that I watched the whole thing as soon as I could, and what do you know?
I really liked it.
For starters, Noelle Stevenson is involved. She’s the brains behind Nimona and Lumberjanes, and her work has a reputation for being delightfully queer, so it’s no wonder I ran right to this show after hearing about her involvement. Queer cartoons about girls saving the world? Count me in!
And there were queer characters, absolutely. Two of the princesses (who are, admittedly, minor figures) are obviously romantically involved. One episode features all kinds of queer couples regularly and casually interspersed in the background. There’s probably a pretty strong case to make that Bow is trans (and also, he’s just plain wonderful and in the queerest move I have ever seen, insisted on wearing a crop top with formal wear; what a great kid). I’d totally argue that Princess Perfuma is into Princess Entrapta. There is a boy who might just be dating another boy who happens to be a lizard man. And I will eat my hat and eighteen whole other hats if Adora, Catra, and Glimmer aren’t queer. For crying out loud, at one point, the heroes succeed because they wash the enemy away with a literal rainbow formed from the power of love. A RAINBOW. OF LOVE.
It’s cheesy and queer and I am EATING IT UP.
Admittedly, that’s not a lot of explicit main character queerness, and I’d like to see more. That said, the first season is about rebuilding the Princess Alliance, which failed so many years ago, in “princess of the week” episodes. It’s also about Adora shaking off the abuse she was under in the Horde, and Catra clawing her way to the top in an effort to overcome the abuse she still suffers. There’s not yet room for romantic arcs, but there is a massive opportunity for personal arcs that will greatly benefit any romantic arcs they might tackle in the future. As much as I want my queer main characters now, I also want healthy, functioning, wholesome queer characters, or characters who are willing to try to become that way, and no one is quite in that place just yet. The steps they’ll have to take to get there, if they go that route, will be just as interesting as any “will they won’t they” plot, though.
And there’s not just queer rep! There are multiple characters of color, like Bow and Mermista and Seahawk and Catra (coded as black, Indian, ambiguously Latino/Filipino respectively, and ambiguous but definitely not white respectively), and characters of all body types! Princess Glimmer is chubby and adorable, Perfuma is extra tall and willowy, Scorpia is beautiful and super buff, and Mermista is solidly built. The team hasn’t shied away from diversity, and I’m hoping that it’ll be built upon in further seasons, and new characters will be introduced that are also diverse.
And speaking of characters, TAZ: Balance fans might have some fun during the eighth episode of the season. There’s been some speculation that some of the background characters resemble fan favorites like Taako, Kravitz, Magnus, Carey, and Killian. Where Merle is is anyone’s guess, though. Maybe he’ll turn up later? Or maybe I should rewatch the episode that introduces Princess Perfuma? If Merle Highchurch would make a cameo anywhere, I’d bet it would be with the plant princess in her hippie kingdom…
Anyways, moving beyond that, the plot really was enjoyable, if a little predictable in some aspects. Even in the darkest hour, you do have a sense of what’s going to happen. What could happen in the next seasons, though, is anyone’s guess. At this time, Noelle Stevenson has said the show was pitched as a single season, but four thirteen-episode arcs have now been finished, suggesting the show has a long and enjoyable run ahead of it.
I’ll certainly continue watching whenever the next season arrives. The animation was lovely and colorful, the characters increasingly interesting and complex, and even when you know what’s coming next, you still want to see it happen for yourself, still want to see the Princess Alliance succeed.
And if you’re like me, maybe, maybe you’re just hoping for He-Man to finally show up, not to upstage Adora/She-Ra, but mostly just to ask, “Hey, what’s going on?“
(I’m sorry for that link. I’m also not even a little sorry at all.)
Have you watched She-Ra yet? Are you planning to? Tell me what you think, or just make terrible He-Man jokes at me, your call!