She-ra and the Power of Representation

Writer: Sarah Kapesa

Editor: Adelyne Koe

Graphic Designer: Heidi Wong




She-ra and the Princesses of Power (2018) is an is an animated reboot of its 1985 original television series that first aired on Netflix back in 2018. The premise follows an orphan, Adora, who discovers a magical sword that has the ability to turn her into the princess warrior, She-ra. In the show, she teams up with other princesses to start a rebellion and fight against evil.


She-ra and the Princesses of Power/ Netflix


The show gained traction on TikTok after some user video edits and audios about She-ra went viral. Through these videos, the show was able to gain an even larger fanbase, accumulating greater viewer counts and further reaches as characters such as Adora, Catra, Glimmer, Bow, and many others are thrust into a world of acceptance and adventure. The show explores themes of identity, power, and self-healing from trauma through natural arcs and its diverse characters. The replication of the real world within this fictional one provides a sense of realism and reprieve from the tired and mundane tropes and styles of shows which often only highlight white, conforming, and straight characters and premises. One thing in particular that stood out is the casual and charming queerness portrayed within the show.


She-Ra and the princesses of power highlight a variety of queer characters, both main and side characters, and present a non-stereotyped take on queer identities and LGBT+ relationships. Despite the completion of the series in 2020, She-ra continues to be a comfort show for many queer youths and netizens who praise it for the natural ways it incorporated queer characters, couples, and identities. The show made a point to not sexualize any of the characters or relationships for fandom approval, but to instead create beautiful plotlines that show realistic depictions of LBGT+ relationships and even the struggles of queer youths who often feel dismissed by society.


Moreover, the creator’s decisions to accurately portray adult LGBT+ relationships provide comfort to members of the community. Two main couples that come to mind are Spinnerella and Netossa, and Bow’s fathers, George and Lance. The representation of aged black people or People of Color (PoC) are oftentimes greatly underrepresented compared to their white LBGT+ counterparts, which makes these couples, amongst others, highly significant. Their existence also directly defies the views of those who either neglect or dismiss the identities of older or non-white LGBTQ members, and sends an empowering message to non-white LGBT+ members about feeling confident and assured about their identity.


Spinnerella and Netossa, and Bow’s fathers, George and Lance/ Netflix


Another beautiful thing about the show is its lack of stereotyping, whether about race, dynamics, or other aspects, such as the typical love triangle trope between best friends, the supportive black best friend with no substance, or even the always-dying LGBTQ members. She-Ra stands out from typical shows, which may either be queer-coded or queer-fishing to make their audiences broader and reach larger demographics. For example, Bow Glimmer and Adora have a platonic friendship, for the most part, and are not torn apart because of love. Bow has a life and plotline outside of Adora and Glimmer and is not their “yes” man. Additionally, none of the queer characters are unreasonably killed off.


The show’s introduction of Double Trouble in season 3 is also a direct contradiction to the overused

“LGBT+ villain” trope. Double trouble is a shapeshifter, perhaps a homage to their fluid non-binary identity, who eventually sides with the villain side. Despite the fact that they sided with the “villains'' in the story, they were never misgendered or targeted simply due to their identity throughout the show. It serves as an important reminder to the audience that even if one does not agree with the actions of another, their

identity may still be respected. Though it may seem that Double Trouble falls into the “queer villain” trope that has been increasingly prevalent in modern-day cartoons, they are still given development as a character and actual personality traits instead of being “evil for evil’s sake”. This not only normalizes non-binary identities but also humanizes them in order to convey that it is important to treat them (non-binary people) like normal people.


Overall, She-ra is able to gracefully introduce and sustain accurate and heartwarming LGBT+ representation and serves as a step in the right direction towards normalized LGBT+ romances.


 

Sources

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