Adora is an orphan raised to fight as a commander in the Horde. When she stumbles across Glimmer, Bow and a magic sword, her current worldview is shattered as she takes on the mantle of She-Ra.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was a huge part of my childhood that still plays a part in my life today – it’s the reason why I’ll only wear furry red pants and a metal muscle bra when I go to the gym. By virtue of having such a long and deep affinity for the musclebound oaf from Eternia, I have more than a tangential knowledge of his long-lost twin sister She-Ra. In fact, to cross the streams with my last review, the He-Man and She-Ra Christmas special is still something I revisit to most years. While I wouldn’t claim to have quite the same connection to She-Ra, it made my nostalgia senses tingle enough to be interested when Netflix announced She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
The new series is very much a reboot of the 80s classic. Adora (Aimmee Carrero) is an orphan raised by Hordak (Keston John) and his band of baddies and taught to fight in his Horde. I mean there has to be a point where you think, “Hold on, we’re called the Horde? That doesn’t sound friendly.” When Adora stumbles on a magical sword she can finally live up to her destiny and realise that maybe working for the Horde might put you on the wrong side of history (in an “are we the baddies?”-type moment like the Mitchell and Webb sketch). With the help of her super friends, Adora gets the chance to become the hero of the resistance and save Etheria. Probably.
I’ll start by saying that She-Ra and the Princesses of Power isn’t a show that’s made for me. Unsurprisingly the creators have opted not to target a cartoon about a female superhero at a middle-aged man whose heart is full of nostalgia and I have absolutely no problem with that. As much as I always loved He-Man and his sister (I even loved the terrible Dolph Lundgren live-action film) I think that it’s time to move on for a new generation. I actually really enjoyed She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. It’s a lot of fun and despite being a familiar story I think that it’s told in an interesting way. I like the dynamic of someone slowly realising that they’re not fighting on the side of righteousness. It was interesting seeing the people on the ground for the Horde, though; there’s a nice message in there not to assume that your perspective is the only perspective. When we first meet Adora and her friends in the Horde they are absolutely convinced they are doing the right thing and they’re not out to be evil or malicious. They think they’re trying to save the world.
One striking difference with this series compared to the original is that it’s a lot more fun and a little goofier. He-Man and She-Ra were never Shakespearian dramas by any stretch of the imagination, but my memory of them was they took themselves quite seriously. That’s certainly not the case with She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and I’m fine with that; it’s a light, fun show that also has some worthwhile messages. If you compare this with the reboot of… well Reboot, they couldn’t be more different. Whereas Reboot: The Guardian Code felt like a show cashing in a name for the sake of nostalgia, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power feels like something that understands the nature of the original series and gives it a modern twist.
It’s not necessarily a subtle or nuanced show in terms of themes or artistic style but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. As an example, there is a character called Bow (Marcus Scribner). Who has a bow and arrow. That he uses regularly. That said there’s a whole TV show about a man called Arrow who arrows people.
I enjoyed She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, it’s harmless fun that might actually have something to say. I hope that somewhere down the line we might get to see He-Man resurrected by Netflix, but I guess we’ll see.