6 Thoughts on the First Season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
Sometimes a piece of entertainment comes along that makes you change everything you thought you had planned for your blog. I don’t review TV shows often (unless they’re superhero shows), but after watching the first season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power on Netflix, I knew I had to do more to preach the good word about this cartoon. Holy cow, you henchies, it’s good!
TV Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic
Based on the He-Man spin-off from the 1980s, She-Ra and the Princess of Power is about Adora, raised and trained by the evil Horde to help conquer the planet of Etheria. When she finds a magic sword that transforms her into a golden Amazon named She-Ra, she starts to learn just how evil and damaging the Horde really is. Adora switches sides and joins the Rebellion, making fast friends with some of the titular Princesses of Power along the way.
The new show was adapted and brought to the screen by Noelle Stevenson, one of the genius co-creators behind Lumberjanes. You can easily see Stevenson’s style in She-Ra, and I already loved her from Lumberjanes. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is everything I want from modern cartoons! You can find it on Netflix!
Join me after the jump for my review/thoughts on the first season of the show! Except FULL SPOILERS for the season.
6. I loved it!
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is great television and I highly recommend it to everybody. It’s a fun, light-hearted cartoon with a super strong foundation that tells a solid, enjoyable story through its first season. There are ups, downs and everything in between, building to an action-packed climax that sets the stage for an even bigger show to come. The main storyline is continuously enthralling, with great main characters in Adora, Glimmer and Bow. The whole She-Ra angle is well handled and always changing, so it doesn’t get old or overblown. There’s depth aplenty in pretty much every facet of this show.
The voice cast is superb, with a wide variety of different people, personalities and clever voice acting. It’s got a strong queer influence, of which I’m a fan, with moments both manly and girly throughout. It’s funny and clever, with sparkling dialogue. And it takes the lore and world-building very seriously. The creators clearly picked apart every aspect of the original show and found new and interesting ways to fit all of the pieces together into something new, giving love and care to even small characters like Netossa and Spinnerella. The climax of their storyline is wonderful.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is everything I want from a modern cartoon. It’s everything I wish I was making with my life as a creator. I hope it gets a million seasons!
5. Doesn’t pull its punches
One great thing about She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is that it gets dark when it needs to and isn’t afraid of being serious. In a big moment about mid-season, it seems like one of the main princesses dies and everybody has to live and deal with that. She’s not dead, and more on her later, but the moment is treated 100% serious. The fights are serious, the stakes are real, the danger is real. This is still a goofy and fun show, but it’s not all comedy and feel good hug times. The show takes its subject matter very seriously, making for a nice blend of high stakes and light-hearted fun.
4. The bad guys are as important as the good guys
“She-Ra” may be the title of the show, and Adora is clearly the star, but one of the best parts of the cartoon is how the bad guys are just as fun, quirky and important as the good guys. She-Ra and her best pals Glimmer and Bow get the lion’s share of action and adventure, and all of the Princesses of Power are really fun. But the bad guys have a squad as well. Equal to Adora in importance is Catra, her childhood best friend and fellow Horde soldier, who decides to stay with the Horde while Adora goes off to join the good guys. Catra has her own complicated storylines in opposition to Adora, and she gets her own team. There’s Scorpia, a really funny and chummy scorpion-based princess, and later Entrapta, but more on her in a bit. This trio is funny, hugely entertaining and just as important to the show as the titular heroes.
In fact, it’s these bad guys who take down the season’s big bad, Shadow Weaver. She’s a corrupt and cruel member of the Horde who has mistreated Catra her whole life. Catra turns the tables on Shadow Weaver and deposes her in an awesome fight, leaving Adora and our heroes busy with whatever else. It’s a great episode!
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power make sure to give every character, even the bad guys, their own unique and fun personalities. This isn’t just a gaggle of mustache-twirling villains. And I love it!
Speaking of Entrapta…
3. Entrapta is best princess
Everything about the character of Entrapta is utterly perfect. That she could be this perfect is utterly baffling. Let’s start with the character herself: she’s so much fun! Entrapta is the quirky science princess, a loner who spends all her time hunkered down in her lab building robots. She does so with the help of those two big pigtails she has, which serve as bonus appendages, like the arms of Doctor Octopus. Her animations are so neat, the way she uses those arms to walk around and climb on stuff like a monkey. And her voice acting is superb, the best in the series. She’s voiced by Christine Woods with a nasally cheerfulness.
But the best thing about Entrapta is that she’s a secret bad guy…sort of.
Take a look at this promotional picture for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. It appears in the title card in the opening theme song.
That’s Entrapta down there in the bottom right corner, clearly on the side of the princesses. In fact, she’s introduced being recruited by She-Ra to join the good guys, and is included with the good guys during the opening credits. But then partway through the series, during a daring raid on the villain base, Entrapta is accidentally left behind. Our heroes believe she was killed — and the show gets surprisingly dark with it, as I mentioned above — but Entrapta is too crafty for that, and she survives and starts tinkering with all the bad guy tech. That is her main motivation: technology and innovation, and the bad guys have neat stuff. When Catra and the other villains find Entrapta, they don’t imprison her or kill her. Instead, they come to quickly understand her main motivation and use that to get her to join them. Entrapta isn’t evil, but the writers cleverly use her character traits to put her on the bad guy team. It’s brilliant character writing, especially for a seemingly minor supporting character. And once Entrapta joins the bad guys, she’s even more entertaining and fun!
The good guys don’t find out that she survived, so we have yet to see her new loyalties tested. I’m sure that’s coming up in season 2.
I was so intrigued by Entrapta’s heel turn that I looked her up from the original show…and was surprised to learn she was a full-on bad guy back then! There was no ambiguity in the 80s, Entrapta was a villain. Giving such a great storyline to and plumbing this much character depth from a minor character like Entrapta (including tricking the audience with those promotional images) is one of the main reasons I loved this show!
2. I want a low key He-Man introduction
There is no doubt in my mind that Stevenson has considered how/when she’ll incorporate He-Man into the show. Granted, she’s said otherwise, but c’mon, surely she’s thought about it.
To expand the Princesses of Power aesthetic to all of Masters of the Universe? That would be amazing! It just makes too much sense! I don’t know what licensing roadblocks might be in the way, but she and her writers have definitely given it some thought. And I hope they do it low key. They’ve already mentioned the word “Eternia” as part of an old language. And Adora declares “For the honor of Greyskull” to become She-Ra. So the building blocks are there. Start He-Man small, maybe bring in Skeletor first. There could be a whole different war going on on some other planet, and they only cameo in this show. Whatever happens, I want He-Man in this show somehow, some way.
And Ram Man, too. He was one of my favorites. I had his action figure.
1. Yeah, I’m probably an Adora/Catra ‘shipper
The heart of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is the relationship between Adora and Catra, and the show shines when using that as the beating heart of the series. It’s a complicated and interesting relationship, with both characters fully formed, with understandable motivations. Adora is on an awesome journey and she just wants her friend to come with her, to join the side of the angels and do the obviously right and easy thing. But Catra has spent her whole life being unfairly compared to Adora. Catra was the scapegoat in the Horde, and Adora was the golden child. So rather than follow Adora and once again be in her shadow, Catra is embracing her new role as the golden child soldier in the Horde. She’s in charge now and she can prove herself. It’s a great storyline, and the two face off throughout the first season.
It’s not too much of a stretch to read more into their relationship. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power wears its queer influences on its sleeve. And even if it didn’t, considering fandoms these days, their ‘ship would be automatic. And yeah, I’m into it. Adora and Catra are great together, and the tragedy of their relationship so far makes for really compelling drama.
Obviously nothing is settled between the two of them in the first season, so I can’t wait to see their relationship explored further going forward in those millions of seasons I asked for.