August Update

This summer has flown by! I still have the list of planned posts I made back in June, but I hope to get them out sooner rather than later. Since then here’s a little bit about what I’ve been up to…

Recent Release: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 3

Season 3 released on August 2 on Netflix with a whopping SIX episodes– down one from season 2’s SEVEN. I have a lot of thoughts about this. In one of my earliest posts, I expressed my frustrations with Miraculous Ladybug’s release schedule, and it’s no secret that Steven Universe dragged its feet, so I’ve actually found this rather refreshing. Since releasing season 1’s thirteen episodes November 18, 2018, season 2 dropped seven episodes on April 26. Although the episode count is still low, She-Ra has kept my interest piqued.

The problem with long wait times between new content is that it’s easy to get caught up in something else. Doctor Who is perhaps my favorite franchise, but these days I’m much more interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with its fairly constant stream of content and announcements, but even now that those have slowed and become increasingly unclear or ambiguous, I am looking for new content to keep me occupied.

Marathoning: RuPaul’s Drag Race

I may have done some marathoning while cleaning out my house and crafting like crazy and most recently I’ve been catching up with RuPaul and the several seasons I’ve missed over the last few years. The thing I like about this particular competitive reality television program is RuPaul’s commitment to promoting loving oneself and one’s weirdness.

The show routinely depicts contestants overcoming their own personal demons or how the show lead to family reconciliations. Regardless of the veracity of reality TV, these heartwarming messages are the kind of thing that we should see more of. With so much hate-speak and anger, promoting love and acceptance is hugely important.

Also, I just love drag queens and have a lot of connections to the LGBTQ+ community. While Drag Race was originally more concerned with poking fun at the question of gender, it has since become a safe space for all forms of gender expression. In recent years, former contestants have come out as transgender and there have even been openly trans contestants. At the start of season 9 (which is what I’m currently on) Lady Gaga makes an appearance and explains how drag has affected her life, elevating it as an art form and an important form of self-expression.

Personal Note

Next week I start grad school (again!) and begin working towards an MFA in Film & TV Studies (hopefully with more emphasis on the TV). I’m very excited, but also nervous. I still have a long list of blog entries to write and publish but have no idea how much time I’ll actually have. To those who keep reading, I deeply appreciate it. I don’t know if I can quite explain what it means to me.

This blog has been a way for me to find my voice and put it out there. Confidence is something I’ve struggled with for a long time and having this platform has been a way for me to work on raising my voice. Learning people are actually reading has been even more exciting. Hopefully, my next post will be a proper review rather than another update!

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

The first time I encountered She-Ra was about 8 years ago on Hulu. Like any new ‘network’, Hulu was taking advantage of inexpensive syndicated programming to draw in viewers. She-Ra: Princess of Power (1985) was literally a sister show to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983). Since He-Man had such success getting boys to buy their toys, Mattel wanted to capture the interest of girls as well. 

The original She-Ra follows Adora, long lost sister of He-Man‘s Adam. She had been kidnapped from planet Eternia and raised on planet Etheria by the Evil Horde to be one of their Force Captains. (Confusing, right?) After being given the Sword of Protection by her brother, Adam, she defects and joins/leads the rebellion. The original She-Ra wore a skimpy outfit, though more elegant (Grecian?) than her brother’s, but she too fought “For the honor of Grayskull”.

While He-Man has been rebooted several times, this is the first time for She-Ra, which is attempting to draw on the popularity of comics geared towards girls such as Nimona and TV shows such as Steven Universe. All of these programs feature female characters that are just as sexualized as their male counterparts (read: not at all). Steven Universe is also known for its portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community, which She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018) is not afraid to draw on. 

The best way to describe She-Ra (2018) is that it is the midpoint between Steven Universe (2013-present) and Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008). The art style resembles Avatar in many ways, but also contains the roundness and soft edges of Steven Universe. The characterization is much closer to Avatar, though, with characters that are unafraid to emote in that obvious anime way. The show features themes of friendship rather than romantic love, but it’s clear from the get-go that gender and sexual preference really don’t matter in this new Etheria.

The society is primarily a female dominant one, with the main villain Hordak as the only male currently in power. However, this does not relegate male characters to the roles typically played by their female counterparts. No, instead of just a gender flip, She-Ra does something much, much better and more interesting; creating a society that has males and females playing an equal part because gender/gender identity are not important in She-Ra. Gender and sexuality aren’t underplayed, just never referenced. Characters come in all different shapes, colors, styles, races, etc and not a single character bats an eye. They are far too busy just trying to live their lives.

Despite being raised by the Evil Horde, Adora’s moral compass points towards truth, justice, and compassion. She’s actually shocked to learn that the Evil Horde regularly hurt innocent people (and that they’re called the Evil Horde). She is somehow ignorant to everything about them, believing instead that the Rebellion are the ones causing unnecessary destruction and harm.

This brings me to a pattern that I’ve found throughout various programs. I don’t have a name for it, but basically it boils down to this: Two friends (often shipped), usually one of them is blond/e and blue eyed, while the other has dark hair or looks less ‘normal’. The blond/e is, for lack of a better word, derpy. These naive characters always want to fight for what’s right and are strong enough to make a difference, however, they struggle with seeing through deceptions or that sometimes things just aren’t that black and white. The other friend is a lot more savvy, with a better understanding of how the world works and that things are not always as simple as they seem. These characters are usually of similar strength or power, but the friend is usually not “the hero” in their world, like the blond/e is.

This is the case with Adora and Catra. While it becomes clear very quickly that all of the characters are a departure from their 1980s counterparts, their relationship really is a product of 2018 sensibilities and ideas. They have a very honest, heartfelt relationship as two characters who were raised together by Shadow Weaver, Hordak’s second-in-command. It’s unclear if 2018 Catra possesses the same abilities as 1985 Catra, but she is a feline humanoid, complete with ears, claws, and a tail. While Blonde, blue-eyed Adora follows the Horde because she believes they are on the side of right (and because they raised her), Catra sees through their lies and is under no impression that they are the ‘good guys’. After feeling betrayed by Adora’s defection, she becomes increasingly self-serving, trying to work her way up the ladder– especially when Adora’s absence opens up a big promotion.

Catra is not the only one who has something to work towards. Because these characters are portrayed as younger than they were in 1985, they are still learning who they are and where they belong. All of the Princesses are young, newer rulers, who are unsure about breaking away from their parents’ values. Individual episodes show the growth that comes with understanding that parents are not infallible and that just because something didn’t work in the past, doesn’t mean it can’t work in the present. All of the characters are growing up and we viewers get to see what that means.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is a complex show that pulls on inspiration from many different places to create something more relatable than the original. I eagerly look forward to additional episodes and hope that this show gets the numbers it deserves. We need more of these earnest, honest shows that demonstrate characters of all different backgrounds getting along without judgement beyond what’s in a character’s heart. It’s a lesson everyone can benefit from.

Looking Back On 2018…

In just a few short hours we will be in 2019! It’s kinda hard to believe. This year feels like it’s lasted at least a decade, so let’s take a second to look back…

Here’s a short list: Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Doctor Who Series 11, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Miraculous Tales of Ladybug and Chat Noir season 2, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Deadpool 2, Disney bought Fox, Guardians of the Galaxy 3 lost its director, Red Sox won the World Series, Game of Thrones dropped the trailer for its last season, we got a sequel to Mary Poppins over 50 years later, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Incredibles 2, American Horror Story crossover, Life-Size 2 almost 20 years later… the list goes on.

Once again it was a big year for revivals and nostalgia. In addition to She-Ra, Sabrina, Mary Poppins, and Life-Size, we saw the revival of Roseanne/The Conners, Murphy Brown, Magnum P.I., American Idol, Tomb Raider, Oceans 8, Charmed, Titans, and Halloween. Now, I may have been a little lax with my viewing. When I was in college, I once had a couple months where I was seeing a new movie each week. Right now, my life is not in a place where I can do that, so that will not be my New Years Resolution. No, instead, I will attempt to put out a blog entry each week and on time! (And I can promise that I will be seeing Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame the weekends they open!)

We’re also currently riding on the wave that is the aftermath of #metoo and its effecting the industry. People are speaking out and its becoming a wise marketing choice to use female and minority filmmakers. Wonder Woman did amazing things for female directors in 2017 and this year Black Panther opened the door for minority filmmakers and superheroes.

TV also got very political this year, with liberal Hollywood speaking out against President Trump and his policies (a trend I expect to continue). This was true even for shows like Doctor Who, which is a British program. His racist and sexist remarks have inspired plot points, such as Who‘s “Rosa” and the political and racial backgrounds of characters on primetime TV shows such as Charmed and Rosanne/The Conners.

So, what does this mean for the entertainment industry? Well, Disney is slowly but surely monopolizing the film industry and cornering the market on mega franchises. It’s no longer just Princesses, there’s Star Wars and the MCU– now with the addition of Fox’s character library (and making us all nervous about Deadpool 3). Meanwhile, Netflix went and canceled a bunch of programs, including all of its Marvel programs (save for Jessica Jones and Punisher), but also released 3 seasons/20 episodes of Nailed It!. NBC is making a comedy comeback with lineups that include The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Will & Grace, while ABC stands by The Conners and snatches up American Idol, with no end in sight for Grey’s Anatomy. America’s Next Top Model is on VH1 now and Black Mirror just released a “Choose Your Own Adventure” episode…

2018 has been a year for reinvention and creativity. It’s been about branching out as production companies try to nail down what audiences are after. While many of us are reading news headlines with dismay, the entertainment industry is actually starting to step up with female and minority representation. Shows like Steven Universe, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and Doctor Who (as played by Jodie Whittaker) are upping the ante on gender and sexuality representation. It’s an exciting time for TV and Film, with even more to come in 2019!

…Okay, so this is another late post, and once again a bit ramble-y, but as I stated above, New Year’s Resolution! For those of you who have taken the time to read my idle thoughts, thank you! This has been a labor of both passion and discipline and I’m really excited I’ve kept it going this long– and plan on more to come!

I’m expecting 2019 to be a big and happy year and wish you and those closest to you the same! Happy New Year!