In my older years, I got into watching old 80s cartoons. When I watched She-ra, I was like “This show is so great, I’d love to see it redone as a more dramatic, fantasy show” so when She-ra and the Princesses of Power was announced, I was beyond excited. Reboots are something the internet is so divisive about, but I don’t really care about the whole “It ruined my childhood shows” garbage that tends to spew when they’re announced. The old version exists, you can still watch it. The new version is made differently in most cases, so you can enjoy it, and it’s older counterparts equally, for different reasons. Did She-ra and the Princesses of Power pull that off successfully?
I think so!
Let’s break this review down into 3 different parts: Plot, characters, and my overall thoughts of the 1st season of the show. I won’t be comparing it to the 80s version, because it’s such a different entity from the 80s version that you can’t really compare them. I will say that what they did with the plot works, and they do a wonderful job of paying homage to the themes of the original show, while modernizing them at the same time. Both stand alone as their own thing, so if you’re in the mood for some glorious 80s camp that has a lot of heart, watch the old She-ra. If you want a really good fantasy/sci-fi narrative, with fleshed out characters, watch the reboot.
The plot of She-ra is very much like the plot of the old version. Adora finds herself as part of the Horde, the bad guys, only to find out during a mission that she’s been chosen to be the next She-ra to defend the planet…from The Horde. She decides to turn against her home and join the Rebellion to stop the Horde, and that’s the basic plot. Now She-ra and the Princesses of Power takes this premise further, because She-ra doesn’t have He-Man to play off of in this. So in this one, Adora is just an orphan, and still turns on the Horde. I find this to be extra interesting, because this way she’s turning on her family that she grew up with, and they really drill that home in the narrative, both with Adora’s arc and how the members of the Horde treat her. This more adult handling of plots and themes is prevalent throughout, and it just shows a major care for the source material, and wanting to expand on it.
I kept on explaining the show to my family as “This is basically fantasy Buffy” and I still hold to it. The characters are slightly different, but the core group of characters you can easily point at and be like “Adora is Buffy, Glimmer is Willow, Bow is Xander”. This isn’t’ a bad thing, but the theming of the show in general just feels like it borrows a lot from that. The supportive friendship between those three, to the final decision Adora makes in regards to holding the mantel of She-ra: everything is very Buffy-esk, but in a fantasy setting and it culminates into this really interesting, dynamic story. If you like a fantasy world, with some sci-fi thrown in, and really good character building, then defs give the plot a try.
I find this problem with most Dreamworks shows, but the good guys are all good, and the bad guys are all bad. They try to use the dynamic of Adora and Catra’s relationship to make it more of a character piece for the bad guys, but still at the end of the day Catra is bad, Adora good. Now that’s not to say that the characters don’t have their own arcs, and aren’t interesting on their own merits, but I do hope that we get out of that mold that is very noticeable in Dreamworks shows.
They did a really good job updating the characters though. No longer is Glimmer just the annoying fairy, and Bow the incompetent archer. They aren’t sidekicks by any means, but them and Adora stand together as their own friendship unit, or “Best Friend Squad” as Bow puts it, and it totally works. You can see why they are friends, and how they strengthen and grow each other, and how individually they are fleshed out characters on their own. The supporting cast are no slouches either: all have super defined personalities, and I can’t wait to see how we expand on them more as well. Just a really well done job modernizing the core concepts of the 80s characters, once again the writers knew what they were doing.
And that’s the biggest thing I can say about this reboot: It modernizes everything that we loved about the old She-ra. Like I said earlier, both stand alone on their own rights as shows, but you can see the love and care put into this reboot with the plotting and character development. If you like a dramatic, fantasy/sci-fi magical girl adventure show, definitely check out season 1 on Netflix! Fingers crossed we get an animated Jem and the Holograms reboot XD