I had He-Man toys as a kid. I grew up in the eighties; it was inevitable. I didn’t really pay a hell of a lot of attention to She-Ra because … well, I was a boy. And She-Ra was for girls. I also watched the He-Man cartoon, and I have very detailed memories of being very angry with WGN because at some point or another they chose to commit the cardinal sin of pre-empting an episode of He-Man with a Cubs game.
I don’t think I ever watched the She-Ra cartoon. I remember that she said “For the honor of Greyskull” instead of “By the power of Greyskull,” but I think that’s cultural osmosis and not an actual memory. I could not have told you the names of a single member of her supporting cast prior to this week.
Honestly, I only decided to watch the show because it seemed to be pissing off a bunch of whiny manbaby manchildren, and I like it when those people’s feelings are hurt. If that makes me a bad person, I can live with it.
I probably shouldn’t even make this part of the CCPR series, y’all, because I loved every second of this show. The three of us watched the first two episodes together and we had to force our son to go to bed at his bedtime because he wanted to stay up and watch more. We watched the other eleven episodes in two big gulps over the next couple of days. This is absolutely 100% unequivocally the best show I’ve ever done one of these pieces on, and I’m only not calling it my favorite animated series of all time because I feel like the second I hit Publish on this piece I’ll remember what my favorite animated series really is and I’ll feel dumb.
I’m not gonna lie: a large portion of my affection for this show is somewhat political. I love what this show is as much as how it is what it is. But before I get into that, I want to be super clear about something: the show is hilarious and touching and action-packed and the voice acting is superb and even before we get into any of the representation issues it’s a great show. My son loved it so much that he’s created his own characters inspired by the show and he’s been drawing comic books about them and creating statues of them in Minecraft all day. My son does not love the show because of politics. My son loves the show because it’s awesome.
To wit: when She-Ra first turns Swift Wind, her horse, into a … pegacorn? Unisus? Rainbow horned wing-beast thing, the horse’s reaction to its new wings and horn had all three of us laughing so hard we could barely breathe. Sea Hawk’s insistence on setting his ships on fire was a running joke that never got any less funny. The relationship between She-Ra and Catra– an invention of the new series, from my understanding– is complex and heartbreaking, especially for a show where friendship is such an important theme, and it feels real. Adora’s fish-out-of-water reaction to … well, virtually everything after leaving the Horde is great. I love even the minor characters, with Mermista, Entrapta and Scorpia being particular favorites. The animation style, which got a lot of unnecessary abuse, is exactly appropriate for the show, and the facial expressions are worthy of The Amazing World of Gumball. It’s phenomenal, all the way through.
But yeah. Let’s talk about the cast. This is what She-Ra’s cast of characters used to look like:
This is what the cast of the new show looks like:
So straight off the jump we’re in a better place here. The cast of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is deliberately and intentionally diverse, both in the appearances of the characters and the actual voice cast. Glimmer is actually kinda chubby, and Spinnerella is flat-out fat,and it’s never once remarked upon by any of the characters. That’s just what they look like. It’s heavy on women characters, as a show with the words Princesses of Power might be expected to be, but it’s not just a palette swap with typical cartoons, where the women have less agency and less characterization. Bow may be the only male of the three principals with Adora and Glimmer, but he’s a solid character on his own right and his relationship with Sea Hawk is hilarious.
(A moment, please, to just appreciate the He-Man style of naming characters. This show features a sorceress character called Castaspella, mercifully called “Casta” most of the time, and a character who throws nets whose name is Netossa. And in case “Netossa” is too subtle for you, she actually explains it onscreen. The character named Perfuma is once represented by some random object while the group is making a plan and she insists on being represented by a perfume bottle. The names are ridiculous.)
And, oh, guys, it’s so gay. So very very very very very very very gay.
This show is so gay it makes Queer Eye look like 19 Kids and Counting.
Bow wears a midriff with a heart on it. At one point he needs to wear a tuxedo for a ball. His tuxedo has a cummerbund on it. He tears off the cummerbund so he can continue to rock his abs in his formalwear at the ball. Which he attends with a girl, but oh my God his reaction when he realizes Sea Hawk is there.
The bad guys are literally wiped away by a giant rainbow wave of love in the final episode.
Spoiler alert, I guess. I mean, if you didn’t know the good guys win at the end of the season. You probably coulda guessed.
Oh, and the goddamn horse ends up being a socialist.
You need to watch this show. If that means you need to get Netflix, do it. It’s great. I can’t wait for the second season. Neither can my seven-year-old son. If my recommendation doesn’t work for you, take his.