So, I started randomly watching Netflix series over the winter break, and semi-unexpectedly (I mean, I watched the first episode because I remember the positive comments from a few communities I’m adjacent to) ended up watching all 5 seasons of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Which is, as an aside, weirdly mis-named, since She-Ra remains the “princess of power” with other princesses having their own specific specialisms as in the original 80s series… I know they’re going for a more equal billing for everyone, but it ends up being a bit of an artifact title.
I find it hard to estimate what age group She-Ra is aimed at - I’m guessing, what, teens, given the approximate ages of the principal characters?* - but, especially once it gets going after Season 1, it’s considerably better written than anything that was around when I was that age. (It also goes for some genuine horror moments - again, buffered a bit by the art style - especially in Seasons 4 and 5, which I don’t think would have been allowed for a non-adults show back in the day.)
What’s also interesting to me, having seen the entire thing now, is how determined the show is to give everyone, pretty much, a “happy ending” - and to show that even the “villains” are nuanced to some extent. I’m not sure this always works - from a morality perspective: given what Hordak was up to over the first 4 seasons [and presumably, for a decade and a half previously, in setting], he seems to get off quite lightly with a “well, his creator was even worse, and now he’s sorry?” excuse, having put in very little of the efforts that the other “pre-season 5” antagonists have to redeem himself; and the ending is super-keen on romantic pairings for the cast, which just doesn’t work for me with the Bow/Glimmer thing. You can actually have valuable non-romantic close friendships, you know, even with people of the genders you’re romantically attracted to (and it’s equally important to show that this is possible to young people as much as it is important to show that all kinds of romantic pairings are also okay).
But! I actually enjoyed a good 90% of the entire series, which is pretty impressive. There’s a surprising amount of relatively deep commentary on the kind of issues - colonialism, rights, depression, and so on - that some shows for adults don’t manage. And there’s also some nice attention-to-detail, especially in the later seasons (the title sequence changes every few episodes throughout Season 5 to reflect changes in the story). Plus I actually really like both the Sword-mediated and “natural” She-Ra “magical girl transformation sequences” (which they definitely are more like now, than the original series’ lower-budget sparkles).
*the art style makes it genuinely hard to tell how old especially the adult characters are - apparently Entrapta’s supposed to be possibly as old as 35 according the the writers… - without them actually saying so. But apparently Adora and Catra were considered old enough to actually lead troops in Season 1, so they can’t reasonably be assumed to be younger than 16 or so, even in the kind of militaristic culture that the Horde represents.