She-Ra, worth the watch, or just another reboot?


Michael Chimienti , Reporter

In 1983, He-Man hit television and captured the imaginations of children across America, especially those of young men. Out of a desire to tap into a potential audience of young women, Mattel made a spin-off series set in the same universe, but following the heroic adventurers of She-Ra, He-Man’s sister who shared similar powers. The series lasted a mere two seasons before fading into obscurity.

Now, backed by Netflix as an original series, She-Ra is being revived in a new show in a similar but different world. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power has already finished its fourth season and a fifth one is in the works, but in a market already saturated with reboots and remakes, does it work as a stand-alone show, or has it been skating on by nostalgia?

Certainly not. A viewer doesn’t have to go in even with a passing knowledge or understanding of the original He-Man to become immersed in the world and its characters; He-Man doesn’t even exist in this interpretation of the world. The world of Eternia shares its name with the world of the original He-Man and She-Ra, but uses its predecessor as a source of inspiration rather than a blueprint. If you are familiar with the original He-Man and She-Ra, do not go in with the expectation of a beat for beat replica, the crew behind the show have used the ideas, the places and people of the work, as tools to create their own story.

Eternia is a world full of fantasy and science fiction alike and has a similar plot structure to the original series. Adora, once a soldier for the Horde ruled by Lord Hordak, breaks away from them after realizing that they are destructive conquerors and discovering a sword that grants her the ability to transform into She-Ra, a hero of legends. She joins the rebellion against the Horde and forms new relationships and friendships with her fellow rebels. The rest of the show consists of battles and missions that Adora and her two friends Glimmer and Bow go on to fight against the horde and to recruit princesses of other kingdoms to the rebellion.

The plot is simple and predictable at times, but it makes for an enjoyable overarching story; the animation isn’t always impressive, but there were many times where I found myself appreciating the effort that must have gone into this show. It was definitely made by people who loved what they were doing. However, the best part about She-Ra is undoubtedly the characters and the relationships that they form. Every character has personality, and the complex relationships that they form are developed and full of stakes. I was bored by the show’s emphasis on friendship at first; I originally thought that the reboot was going to be an uninspired preach-fest ala something from the crew of Rebecca Sugar, but the relationships between the main characters are developed and real. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, there is conflict as well as comradery, and it makes a point to have the characters communicate with one another in order to resolve issues, which is an important moral to teach young viewers.

Furthermore, it would be easy for the creators to write off the Horde and its characters as mustache-twirling villains, but the relationships explored there are the most interesting. She-Ra explores the abusive relationship between a mother and her adopted daughters, and loyalty to people who don’t really care about you. Catra is a character who was best friends with Adora before she left the Horde, and feels scorned and abandoned by her, and later on, she comes to believe that her former friend was only ever nice to her to manipulate her. It’s these fascinating connections that really make the audience care about what is happening in the world. If the writers can make the audience conflicted about what side they should be rooting for, they’re doing something right. By the end of the series, I was even empathizing and rooting for the main villain in a way, who could have simply been written as big bad with no human qualities. I should not have to explain why that would be so much less interesting.

The cast is also diverse in gender, ethnicity, and sexuality, without feeling forced or like it is filled with token characters, although it could be argued that queer relationships in the show are hidden inside characters to avoid angering the crew’s corporate backers. It is great to see a show write minorities as characters and people rather than leave them in the show at an attempt to appear progressive without actually being such.

She-Ra is definitely a binge-worthy series, a show with great characters and stakes that feel real and significant to the viewer. The most recent season has left its audience on a major cliffhanger, which will leave you genuinely frightened of what’s to come in the land of Eternia, and what will happen to your favorite characters.