#REVIEW: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Season 5

We finally finished watching the final season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power last night, and the show has joined a very exclusive list: television programs that I started watching with the first season and then stuck with through to their conclusion. In fact, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is probably the only one. I watched all of How I Met your Mother, but didn’t get into it until the second or third season and then went back and got caught up. Everything else I’ve eventually bailed on.

Here’s the thing about this program: I loved– absolutely loved— the first season. Seasons 2 and 3 (which were basically one season, broken in half) and Season 4 were all good, but I wasn’t apeshit about them enough to write posts.

Season 5 is the show’s best season, and the only one that is even close is the first season. I don’t want to get into a lot of details, because if you’ve not taken my word on this in the past you need to experience the series for yourself, but the way it resolves all of the story and emotional arcs from the rest of the series without feeling like it’s ever ticking off boxes and without any filler episodes in insanely impressive. It’s a remarkable achievement in television, and everyone involved should be incredibly proud of themselves. If you have Netflix, this is what you’re paying your money for. Look past the name of the show if the idea of watching She-Ra in the first place seems weird to you; it definitely felt weird to me at first, as someone who never really knew anything or much cared about the source material (and even the He-Man stuff was never anything other than pretty ridiculous,) believe me, you’re gonna get over it. It’ll be okay.

You’re going to love this program. It’s magnificent. Check it out.


6:11 PM, Monday, May 25: 1,657,441 confirmed cases and 98,034 deaths.

In which I watched The Witcher

When did I watch it? Wecently.

Shut up I get to have my fun.

I’m coming at this show from sort of a weird angle: I had not read any of the source material (but I ordered three of the novels after watching, and am about a fourth of the way through the first one right now) and I have played one of the three video games and didn’t like it very much. So it’s kind of difficult for me to explain why I jumped at watching the show, particularly since I’ve never really been a fan of Henry Cavill either.

tl;dr you should probably watch this if you’re into This Sort of Thing, but don’t pay for a Netflix account for it or anything like that.

Good Stuff:

  • The show mostly dispenses with the rampant sexism and PoC erasure of the game, at least– I don’t recall a single use of the C-word, which is everywhere in the game, and the cast is reasonably diverse;
  • Henry Cavill is having the time of his life playing a man whose only emotion is exasperated— Geralt of Rivia is so over all of this shit, all the time, and it’s hilarious; I never thought I’d use the word “adorable” to describe Cavill but it’s entirely accurate through most of the show;
  • Anya Chalotra as Yennifer of Vengerberg also does a fantastic job in what is probably the show’s best role. Yen is a complicated, meaty role, and she digs deep into this character;
  • The majority of the smaller roles are well-acted as well. I don’t know any actor in this program outside of Cavill himself and I don’t know where they found all these folks but they’re great. Definitely worth singling out are Joey Batey’s Jaskier and Jodhi May’s Queen Calanthe, who I want to get a show all on her own;
  • Fun fact about Jaskier: this is the character who in the games and the English novels is called Dandelion. Turns out jaskier is the Polish word for “buttercup,” and the books and games made the decision to render the character’s name as a slightly less feminine-sounding yellow flower in English, but the show just stuck with Jaskier, which in English scans perfectly well as a fantasy name;
  • Netflix went all out with budget and FX; there’s a suspect mask early in the series but in general the show looks really good, and it’s well-directed across the board, with good action scenes.

The not as good stuff:

  • I’m willing to be patient with Ciri’s story while she becomes the character I know from the third game, but she basically just runs around in the woods uselessly for the entire season. She’s getting Sansa’s character arc from GoT right now without the endless, twisted speculation about when she’s going to get raped, and we’re very much in the “young and whiny and mostly pointless” phase at the moment. Hopefully this gets better quick in the next season;
  • Costuming is generally pretty good, but two exceptions are Henry Cavill’s wigs and the Nilfgaardian’s utterly ridiculous, impractical, please-stab-me armor;
  • The show follows three timelines separated by at least several decades, and wants you to figure that out rather than making it clear, and while I don’t mind TV that rewards the viewer paying attention it’s not at all obvious what the show gains from making all the time-jumping effectively a background detail. They also hurt Yen’s storyline quite a bit with this; she goes from a novice to someone who has spent three decades as a royal advisor between the earliest storyline and the middle one, and those three decades change her character quite a bit– it would have been nice to see some of it;
  • It’s possible that Cavill’s bad wigs are a timeline hint, but even if they are– I think one of them might be blonder than the others– they’re still terrible;
  • Related to the timeline issue, the show isn’t great at explaining things in general, and my wife spent most of the season asking me questions I couldn’t answer with my limited background knowledge. You’re asked to take quite a bit on faith and I think the show works much better for people with deep background knowledge, but it’s hard to say, since I don’t have it. One of the best things about GoT was the opening sequence, which effortlessly laid out the entire map and let you know where everything was without wasting show time on it. This show could have used something along those lines. At least sprinkle some maps into the background somewhere.

So, yeah: if you’re one of the ten Netflix subscribers who hasn’t checked this out yet, you should probably think about it. If you don’t have Netflix and are a big fantasy person, maybe think about it. If you’re neither, give it a pass. I’m in for Season Two and at least the first of the books, but I’m not gonna lose any sleep waiting for it either.

Final classroom update

… seeing as how school starts tomorrow, for shit’s sake:

The room is basically done, at least on the decor front; there will probably be some more math-related stuff scattered about as the year goes on but what I’ve got is more than enough to get started with. I got the round table I wanted and brought in a single carrel desk, so I feel like the kids have plenty of options for where to sit. We’ll see how it goes; first teacher day is tomorrow and first day with the kids is Thursday. I plan on spending the first two days at least on procedures and getting-to-know-you stuff so no need to worry too much about lesson planning yet.

In other news, this is happening, and are you as excited as I am? Or as excited as I would be, if all of my available emotional energy wasn’t being sidetracked into other things right now? Because I totally feel like if I had any spoons left I’d be burning them on being super excited about this:

Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: #SHERA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER

Y’all.

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:

I mean, the two on the outside are both purple…

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.

Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: THE DAY MY BUTT WENT PSYCHO

TheDayMyButtWentPsychoProfile.jpg

So the boy has figured out how to use the Netflix app on his (my) iPad, meaning that he no longer really watches “TV” in the classic sense, ie, on an actual television.  He’s also become a bit less likely to get religion about a show for weeks at a time.  The New Hotness might last only a few days now before he moves onto something else.  Also, because he’s watching on a personal device, what he’s watching requires a bit more direct monitoring than the TV, which gets shoved into my brain if I’m in the room whether I want to or not.

A couple of weeks ago I’m sitting in my recliner, probably reading or something, and he’s on the couch watching some damn thing on the iPad.  After a few minutes, I realize that the word butt has floated into my earballs just a bit more than random chance might otherwise suggest, and I start paying attention.   And the word butt continues to fly from the iPad.

“Boy, what the hell are you watching?”

“The Day my Butt went Psycho,” he says.

“What’s it really called?” I say.

This confuses him.  At any rate, he’s telling the truth, and The Day My Butt Went Psycho is an actual fucking show, made by Canadians and Australians, no less, two peoples who I thought had more sense than this, and based on an actual book.  Although it doesn’t appear to be actually about a particular day, or anyone’s particular butt going psycho.  No, this show’s actually the weirdest post-apocalyptic fantasy in television history:

Butts!  Always one step behind.  Years ago, butts rose up to overthrow humanity.  People fought back!  And now an uneasy peace remains, as the world waits for the next great buttfighter!

Here, there, everywhere, 
Butts are loose but we don’t care
I’m teaming up with my butt
Cheek for cheek, an awesome pair
We’ve got the same DNA
Kicking butt in every waaaaay
Zach and Deuce forever!

I…

I have so many questions.  How many years ago did this happen?  Decades?  Just a couple of years?  Has Zach’s butt Deuce always been detatched, or as the show implies, did it happen when he was a teenager?  Are children born with their butts detatched?  Can butts reproduce on their own without human assistance?  Do butts automatically match their humans in gender?  How the hell does pooping and digestion in general work now? Do butts need to eat?

What the merry fuck is buttfighting?  Why is the world waiting for a buttfighter, and how will a buttfighter help with the “uneasy peace” between people and butts?  Zach and Deuce are best friends; are they unusual in this respect?  Do most people not get along with their butts?  How does that work?  What happens to the people whose butts were killed during the Great Butt Uprising?  What happens to the butts whose people were killed during the Great Butt Uprising?  Have animals also lost their butts?  What about other living things who possess a digestive system and a means of excretion but do not, precisely speaking, have what we would call a “butt”?

What exactly is a butt, anyway?

I need to know the answers to these questions.  But without, like, watching the show or anything, because I just cannot handle this number of butt-related puns, with episodes like Butt I’m a Cheerleader and Jurassic Fart and Game of Porcelain Thrones and My God Just Kill Me and maybe I made up that last one.

This show is not telling the stories I want to hear.  I need worldbuilding here, people!  Exposition!  When are the prequels coming out?  I must know about the uprising.

God help me.

God help us all.