On November 13, Dreamworks Animation released the new She-Ra and the Princesses of Power series on Netflix. As a child of the 80s that grew up with the original She-Ra, I knew I had to check it out. It took me a few days to get through the 13 episode series but I did it.
First, let’s discuss the differences between the original version of the show and this one. Back in the 80s, She-Ra: Princess of Power was a spin-off of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Therefore, Adora/She-Ra was the twin sister of Prince Adam/He-Man. Adora was kidnapped, as a baby, by Hordak, the main villain of the series. Hordak’s sorceress, ShadowWeaver, puts Adora under a spell to keep her from remembering her past. (I don’t know why an infant would remember her parents or twin brother….) And she doesn’t receive the Sword of Protection, which allows her to transform into She-Ra, until He-Man is sent to Etheria to find her.
In the new version, Adora is significantly younger. While we never get a definitive age for the 80s-era Adora, she looks to be in her early-to-mid 20s. Today’s Adora is 16 years old. She is an orphan that was raised by Hordak and ShadowWeaver, so there are no spells required to keep her in line. Her big sword reveal moment happens when she goes into the Whispering Woods with Catra, her best friend. They just happen upon the sword and Adora hears Light Hope calling her. Adora doesn’t turn against the Horde until she gets captured by Glimmer and Bow, who show her the evil ways of the Horde. Also, Adora isn’t the only She-Ra. She-Ra is apparently a power handed down over generations. Adora is just the first She-Ra in a thousand years.
Which leads me to, in my opinion, the biggest change in the series - the characters. In the original, Catra was a Force Captain in the Horde. She was one of the main foes that She-Ra had to fight. In this version, Catra and Adora were raised together. They are best friends. As a result, a majority of the series focuses on their relationship. Catra spends a lot of time complaining about ShadowWeaver favoring Adora or Adora abandoning her. (I’m not sure what Catra wants. She is jealous that Adora is ShadowWeaver’s favorite but, at the same time, she doesn’t want her best friend to leave? It’s a weird dynamic.) In addition, the original Catra had powers of her own. She had the ability to turn into a panther by lowering her cat mask onto her face. Today’s Catra is already a catgirl and, from what I can tell, she isn’t likely to turn full panther at all. This is my least favorite part of the series. Catra was one of my favorite characters of the original show and this version of her pales in comparison.
Catra isn’t the only change. Besides making all of the female Rebels a lot younger (I think they say Frosta is 11?), poor Sea Hawk gets a complete personality change. He goes from being a roguish pirate to an insane pyromaniac stalker.
I could probably go on forever about the personality differences between the characters but I won’t. I’ll just say there are significant differences.
Overall, I didn’t hate the show. I understand why they made some of the changes they did. The writers were able to include people of color and LGBTQ+ people. I loved that there were gay characters in the show. My main problem is that they took perfectly fine characters and ruined them. For example, Mermista was always on the side of the Rebels in the original series but, in this series, she has this “I don’t really care” attitude that people like to attribute to millennials. (Mermista is voiced by Vella Lovell from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Mermista is EXACTLY like her character from that show.) I don’t understand why they couldn’t have taken the original characters with their original personalities and just updated the character designs and storylines. Even if the He-Man element was removed, they could have easily kept all of the characters similar to the originals. I don’t believe that kids nowadays wouldn’t enjoy a series with strong female leads that don’t have a ton of emotional baggage to carry.
Oh, and, for the record, I don’t hate the character redesigns. I don’t like She-Ra’s boots very much but the rest isn’t terrible.
While there haven’t been any announcements of additional seasons of the show, supposedly the writers have three more seasons finished. So, who knows. Maybe we will see more She-Ra in the future and maybe the show will grow into something better. For now, it just gets a ‘meh’ from me.