She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Review (From an Adult White Male)

By Scott Zillner

The new She-Ra and the Princesses of Power from Dreamworks is (for all intents and purposes) ‘not for me’. But guess what?

I liked it anyway.

For the record I am a 45 year old white male—definitely not the ideal demographic for which the new animated creation is marketed. However, I do love cartoons of all kinds. And as far as this particular franchise goes, I am a legacy watcher, meaning I watched the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and later She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoons. I didn’t just watch them during their original runs. I’m not just remembering them fondly through a pair of fog-crusted Nostalgia Goggles. No, I have gone back and watched them again. Really, save for that amazing painted background art, they are terrible by today’s standard.

Hey, it was 1983—it took a minute for cartoons to hit Avatar: The Last Airbender status in terms of storytelling. But we watched them then because they were charming, fun, and it was all we had. Running home to watch cartoons after school was the highlight of our day! Going back to nostalgia, sure, we still have that hype coursing through our veins. When we hear the words ‘Skeletor’ or ‘She-Ra’, our brains want and expect to see a certain thing. But that thing can’t always stay exactly the same forever.

They need to grow. They need to evolve.

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And seriously, think about it; those original stories were not the best. Think about Voltron for a second and compare the classic 80s Voltron to the new Voltron on Netflix. If you actually take some time to watch it, the new series will completely blow you away. But with She-Ra, Dreamworks dropped those character designs and teaser trailers and boom. Right off the bat we see old white men complaining. I’m not even kidding. I follow a bunch of different cartoon and fandom related groups online and within seconds the complaints started rolling in.

“It’s not as good as the old series.”

“This is crap, I hate it.”

“This is so horrible that I’m going to cancel my Netflix account.”

And so on.

Now me personally, I had a couple of issues with the show. It isn’t perfect, but the other aspects I liked were strong enough to keep me invested. She-Ra is not made to sell fashion dolls now. It is made for girls. Really– a cartoon made for girls. Modern girls or young women who are racially diverse and have a host of different body types. This isn’t She-Ra brought to you by Mattel. This is a story with a strong narrative, fleshed out characters, and notable arcs. If that is your issue with it, don’t watch. Go back and live in your cave.

You still here with me? Great—let’s keep going with the show’s strengths.

Characters

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There are a bunch of characters in this show. More than we have time for today, so I am going to focus on only a couple here. First, let’s talk about Bow. He is truly the break out character in the series. Not only was his redesign essential, but now he’s fun, outgoing, and pleasantly amicable. He wants everyone to be pals. He is almost good as Sea Hawk “Adventure!”

Onto Glimmer; the heart of the rebellion and princess alliance. Upbeat, energetic, and wants more than she can reach. She pulls everyone together under that ‘make it happen’ vision. But clearly, her physical design probably strays strongest from her source material.

As for our hero, Adora/She-Ra herself, her characterization is really a new twist on her own duality. Still naive and unsure, but she’s a warrior who was given the power of a God. She fights against evil and she can now see in the Horde for what they are. Yet she still wants her old friendship with Catra. All things considered, we have a complex inner struggle and search for self-acceptance and discovery happening here.

Story

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There is a very good start to this new world and its lore. We are getting to know the princesses and the Horde, but are still missing some underlining ‘whys’. But it doesn’t matter—the world is entertaining and bubbly for many levels. Spanning only thirteen episodes in its first season, She-ra and the Princesses of Power leaves you wanting more. By the end of the season, the team has been assembled, they’re officially together, and it’s a world you want to be a part of.

Simply put, it’s fun.

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The show is not as serious as the 2000s He-Man, and yet not as childish as the 80s cartoons. It is a nice mix and fits right in with the animation that real kids and teens want to watch today. This is an accepting, inclusive world where some of the characters are even openly gay. Big drama, right? But come on—this is not the end of the world, but the beginning to the new world. Because let’s be real; open acceptance is now the norm, not homophobia and intolerance. Instead of laughing at Bow and making jokes on why he’s ‘so gay’, we’re in an era where the characters can finally speak for themselves.

All in all, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power on Netflix is good. You should watch it for some nostalgia and fun. It’s not your 80s kids cartoon, but it’s entertaining and enjoyable. I had a good time watching it and I hope it goes places. I am very much looking forward to season two.

I give She-Ra and the Princesses of Power 4/5 swords.

 

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