The final season of She-Ra And The Princesses of Power celebrates its first birthday today, and the modern adaptation of the original cartoon has had a gargantuan impact on not only the world of animation, but queer media as a whole. Its fandom is insatiable, taking to social media and organising mass campaigns crying out to Dreamworks for a film, or some form of continuation to the adventure that has grown fond in the hearts of so many. It’s something special, to me and so many others – so I asked the Reddit community exactly what it means to them.
“When I first heard Noelle Stevenson was going to be the showrunner for this series, I was excited to see how she’d put her own stamp on a property so entrenched in American cartoon history, but I was not ready for what she and her whole team delivered,” one fan tells me. “It walks a beautiful balance of pulling at your heartstrings and raising the stakes, while still keeping things inclusive and light. The way this show concludes is nothing short of brilliant and each payoff and the final moments are beautifully executed and feel incredibly earned.”
The earlier seasons of She-Ra were defined by a ‘will they/won’t they’ dynamic between the two leading heroines – Catra and Adora – a duo that fans immediately shipped in the form of fanart and bespoke stories, hoping desperately that a romantic relationship would become canon. Even as the final season loomed, doubts were spreading, but the show concludes with a passionate lesbian kiss that literally saves the world. We don’t see the relationship develop beyond this, but it remains groundbreaking, a gay relationship between two leading characters in a medium that often pushes them to the sidelines.
As expected, its LGBTQ+ themes is what drew so many fans to She-Ra. “I never thought representation would matter all that much to me but seeing queer people in a show kicking butt and being well written characters in their own right was life changing for me,” said another fan. “My favorite part by far is that everyone in the show is treated as a person and their identity is not their only character trait like it is in a lot of other media. It is never even mentioned in the show. It is a breath of fresh air in a scary world and the show is a safe and happy place for me. The fandom and those that made the show possible have all helped make me feel normal and happy with who I am and realize things about myself.”
An autistic fan also shared their love for Entrapta, a character who is coded in such a way but isn’t shamed for her erratic behaviour. Instead, her friends learn to work with her, even when she takes an accidental trip into the realm of villainy purely because she’s utterly fascinated with the world of technology. “I feel very represented by Entrapta as an adult autistic woman,” they explain. “The way she relates to people is so relatable and it’s honestly refreshing to watch an autistic character who is morally ambiguous not because they’re too innocent and pure to know what they’re doing wrong, but just because The Horde simply has better tech and is therefore more interesting to Entrapta – I love villains, so having an autistic villain was awesome for me!”
Double Trouble, a non-binary character who also happens to be a devious shape-shifting lizard, receives similar praise. Like many other characters, their identity wasn’t thrown into the faces of viewers, it’s just who they are. “Seeing a person (lizard? I just know they’re sexy) getting called ‘they’ so casually and unquestionably made me feel so valid!” one fan explains. “I started watching because I heard it’s gay but it’s so much more! It portrays human connections so well. My favourite thing is that it has romances, but it is not the main theme of the series. Also after I finished watching, I googled the original She-Ra, and saw that in that one, she was He-Man’s sister and he was the one who saved her, and it was also only written to sell Mattel toys – and look how far she came, getting her own gay little series with so many fleshed out, diverse, unique characters.”
While a continuation of this universe feels uncertain, the community around it is alive and well. Fans continue to produce original merchandise, fanfiction, and endless amounts of art for all of their favourite characters. It shows no sign of slowing, which is a testament to what Dreamworks and Noelle Stevenson have achieved with She-Ra and The Princesses of Power. As one fan poetically puts it: “To me, She-Ra represents another powerful stepping stone in the history of progressive and imaginative American cartoons. It serves as a testament that with careful consideration, creativity, and a focus on representation, for everything from body shape and size to gender and sexuality, a compelling story that can make anyone and everyone feel seen is more than possible through animation, it’s arguably the best medium for it.”
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