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She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Seasons 1-4)

"She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power is the story of an orphan named Adora, who leaves behind her former life in the evil Horde when she discovers a magic sword that transforms her into the mythical warrior princess She-Ra. Along the way, she finds a new family in the Rebellion as she unites a group of magical princesses in the ultimate fight against evil."

As someone who never really grew up with the original She-Ra, I wasn't 100% sure what I was in for when I first decided to watch Dreamworks TV's/Netflix Reboot. I was only slightly familiar with He-Man and it's over the top fantasy/sci-fi shenanigans but never took anything from that franchise seriously. It was cheesy, silly, Saturday morning cartoon fun that would occasionally good for a laugh.

I was very familiar with the previous work of the show's writer, Noelle Stevenson. Her award-winning comic, "Nimona", is one of my favorite graphic novels for how it is not only funny but plays with expectations. Making the supposed "supervillain" and his titular sidekick the most fun and relatable characters of the piece.

Netflix's She-Re reboot has continued to hit me in the same way. While definitely targeted to adolescent viewers, She-Ra is the kind of animated series that definitely appeals to a wider audience, no matter their age. They don't even need to have any prior knowledge of previous incarnations of the series to appreciate the enthralling character writing and playful sense of humor.

Seasonal Overview: May contain spoilers!

Season 1

The first season takes time to set up its characters and premise. Adora's eyes are opened to the horrors committed in the name of the horde and she makes the choice to leave and fight back. Alienating her childhood friend, Catra, who begins to assert her new identity as Adora's rival/enemy once she realizes that Adora's absence has allowed her to grow more powerful.

Season 2

Though a bit quieter overall, Season 2 builds on the overall mystery surrounding Adora's connection to the ancient technology scattered around Etheria. Catra must face her new responsibilities as Hordak's second in command and finds herself struggling to stay in his favor.

Season 3

This season starts with a bang. including a big revelation about Adora's past and an alliance
of convenience with the horde's former second in command, Shadow Weaver. Hordak's history and goal are revealed and it is a race against time to stop him and Catra. Whose failures continue to leave her emotionally isolated. To the point, she is willing to cross any line to get what she wants.

Season 4

 Deals with a majority of the fall out from Season 3. Glimmer finally gets the position of authority she has always wanted, but not in the way that she hoped. Catra continues to scheme and manipulates even Hordak in a desperate attempt to beat Adora and the Rebellion. Friendships/alliances fracture on both sides. All of which comes crashing down on the entire cast when a larger threat looms on the horizon. This season also marks the arrival of Double Trouble. A shapeshifting mercenary who acts as a seed of chaos on both sides.

Much like Nimona before it, She-Ra plays with expectations of how certain characters could/should act or behave. Taking the time to flesh out almost every member of the cast. Especially its antagonists. In fact, Catra (Adora's childhood friends turned enemy) could be considered a secondary main character as a good chunk of episodes focus on her struggles to climb up the Horde hierarchy. It takes a special kind of story to find that you find yourself rooting/crying for characters who you know are, by design, supposed to be the bad guys.

Or are they really?

Whereas its source material (from what I understand) was very much a black and white depiction of evil vs good. But as each season goes by, the line between good and evil, the Princess Rebellion vs the Horde becomes increasingly blurry. Regardless of what sides characters fall under, both major and minor characters are fleshed out enough that they grow beyond their stereotypes. Catra is easily the best Starscream-esque schemer I've seen to date, rife with emotional turmoil fueling her bad decisions. All of which have consequences that can be felt seasons later.

Another aspect of Noelle's writing that I appreciate is their ability to play with gender roles. Catra and Adora share a lot of romantic tension from the get-go, which later includes Catra's confidant Scorpia. This is taken even further in later seasons when Bow is revealed to be from a same-sex family (he has two dads). The introduction of Double Trouble pushes this inclusion even further by being the first non-binary character to appear on the show. What makes She-Ra unique, however, is that it doesn't overplay these aspects of its world/character building. Allowing the characters to exist as they are, no matter their age, body type, sexual orientation or gender.

Each season has left me more invested and emotionally attached than the last and I can honestly say after the events of season 4, I have no idea what is going to happen next. I'm assuming good will ultimately triumph over evil, but as to who and what form that evil will ultimately take is anyone's guess. If you're a fan serialized animated storytelling, you should definitely give She-Ra and the Princesses of power a shot.

 FORMAT: SERIES AVAILABLE ON: Streaming  FROM: Netflix RATING: PG  RUNNING TIME : 39 Episodes (as of Season 4)

IN A NUTSHELL:  A fun yet compelling reimagining of a "Girl power" icon.