I binge-watched the rebooted She-Ra some weeks ago. I was not too hopeful, judging from the previews I’d seen. But this show is what the Battlestar Galactica reboot was: a hell of an improvement on the original. I am old enough to have watched the original Battlestar Ponderosa, I mean Battlestar Galactica, in the 1970s. I have historical geek cred.
(Warning: spoilers ahead, but you should have watched this by now anyway!) When I watched the original She-Ra cartoons in the mid 1980s (if you tell anyone I did that, I will hunt you down and kill you), it was painfully obvious that the stories were about selling action figures to little girls. The new She-Ra stories are about the relationships between the characters. The center of season 1 is the arc of Adora (okay, She-Ra) and Catra: friends to frenemies.
She-Ra is what all interesting heroes should be: flawed. As with the original, She-Ra starts on the evil side, and jumps ship when she sees how evil her side is. But the new She-Ra has trouble controlling her powers. She was sheltered and easily fooled by the Horde until the Horde nastiness was shoved right into her face. (Maybe she grew up on Fox News.) She is chock-full of self doubt. (Super Holly Hansson does not have that problem, she’s been punching out bullies since pre-school.)
The original She-Ra cast reminded of what my nephew said many years ago when he picked up an action figure and said, “Dis is dah good guy,” and he handed me another figure, “and dis is dah bad guy.” You got to know their entire character in 10 seconds. They didn’t evolve. The new Entrapta evolves nicely! I admit that my character Crestley Smusher is heading in her direction: amoral ultra-geek, siding with wherever the greatest technological challenge is. But even the characters who are estblished fast are fun. The new Scorpia’s personality delightfully BOOMED into my face: bubbliest burly henchwoman EVER! The new Shadow Weaver / Hordak dynamic takes prepping for back-stabbing to new heights. I remember what Siskel and Ebert said, the strength of the hero is measured against the strength of the villain. Shadow Weaver is wounded and hurt and you should never turn your back on her.
I read that there is LGBT representation. I believe it, but for me to be sure, I have to see them lip-lock, and I doubt that will happen anytime soon. The new Bow has relationship issues with Glimmer, he was complimented on his belly-button-exposing shirts by one of the Horde guys (hint hint?), and he often moves like a ballerina. The original Bow, other than his flowery taste in clothes, reminded me of the Animal Man comic book where the Red Mask said about Captain Triumph: “Nice guy, but he had the personality of a deck chair, ya know?”
Check out the new She-Ra. I look forward to season two. More character relationship arcs! More strong villainy! More Scorpia bear-hugs! More Sea Hawk burning his own boats (that guy must be secretly rich).
P.S. For you whiny fanboys who want the original Barbie doll She-Ra with the bit of 80s cleavage, you can ogle Super Holly. But not too long or she’ll warn you once, then punch you twice.