Spoiler Warning: For Episode 1, “The Gales”
I was already interested in the show and movie because I love the fantasy genre. I did watch the movie first, but I’m going to be honest, I had never heard of it until the TV show was being made. And I mainly watched the movie because of my interest in the show. I heard from a friend that there was a butch for a butch lesbian couple in it and was very intrigued. I have also heard that Willow the show has unfortunately had poor reviews because of racism, sexism, and homophobia. There is even a YouTube comment on the trailer claiming that “Wokeny” is ruining all of the brands. As if the movie Willow wasn’t already rather feminist considering that the “chosen one” was a girl, the villain was a powerful sorceress, and her daughter was one of the butt-kicking main characters. Also, the main character was a little person. That sounds pretty “woke” to me.
The show Willow takes place when Madmartigan and Sorsha’s children are young adults. One of these children, Prince Aryk, is kidnapped by The Crone’s cult, who plan on using him to end the world. His sister Princess Kit, her bodyguard, Jade, her fiance Prince Graydon, a man named Boorman known for his adventuring skills, Willow, and Prince Aryk’s fiance, Dove, form a rescue team to save him. It is revealed at the end of the pilot episode, “The Gales”, that Dove is actually Elora Danan. I loved this twist, although I did see it coming because it seems more expected that Kit or Jade, who know how to fight, are Elora. But instead, Elora is a kitchen girl, who is very traditionally feminine.
Kit and Jade are also romantically interested in each other, starting the episode with a homoerotic sword fight. Then Kit makes a public speech that she doesn’t want to marry Prince Graydon, whom she is arranged to marry. Afterwards, Kit is about to run away, but she goes to Jade to tell her to come with her. Jade says no, but Kit kisses her which Jade does not resist/sort of kisses her back. I think my initial love for their relationship comes from that they strongly remind me of my own characters. Okay, so who in my college writing workshop stole my short story about a princess who falls in love with her female bodyguard? (Just kidding, but it is a weird coincidence that one of the characters even shares the same name as my character.)
But Kit was also very annoying. She’s so mean to Elora for no reason, except for that it seems like internalized misogyny, like the way she points out that she doesn’t think that Elora can handle the quest. I loved it when Elora pointed out that Kit doesn’t have much experience with this either. Later, it’s revealed that Kit resents Elora because she feels like Madmartigan, who’s missing, has chosen Elora over her. Kit does end up getting some great character development in that department. I love seeing female friendship rather than rivalry! (Unlesss it’s rivalry to lovers.)
The show was also beautiful with all the nature scenery and CGI which is far more advanced than it was in the 80’s film. My favorite episode based on aesthetic value was Beyond the Shattered Sea. The sunset over the sea was breathtaking and the CGI sea monster who pulled their ship was adorable. I also loved looking at the forest they traveled through in previous episodes. The characters were also very stylish even though their outifts were slightly modern for epic fantasy. But it is in a fantasy world, so they can wear whatever they want. I even ended up wearing an outfit inspired by Elora’s outfit because it was so cute.
The plot does meander a bit, and there is a lot of focus placed on the romantic relationships. This can sometimes distract from the main plot. But I still really ship Elora with Grayson and Kit with Jade, so I didn’t mind it much. Some critics have said they don’t like the soundtrack choices, but I actually love the soundtrack. It makes the show feel fresh and modern, despite being high fantasy. Critics have similarly complained that the show is tonally different from the movie because of the humourous content. I disagree. The movie Willow was very comedic, particularly with the brownies. So that the trolls weren’t played “straight” actually fits that pattern.
Another critique that I read was that the characters talk more like characters from a US teen drama than fairy tale characters, but forsooth, dost thou really wish to hear them speak medieval? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. It is a bit of a teen drama sequel to the film Willow, but this makes sense as the main characters are young adults. It is a bit cheesey, but so was the original film. If you’re super attached to the movie, you may find fault with the sequel. Just try to keep an open mind about it. I would reccomend it to other fans of teen fantasy shows, especially if you’re looking for an epic fantasy show with a diverse cast. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.
Willow. Ruby Cruz, Ellie Bamber, Tony Revalori, Erin Kellyman, Amar Chadha-Patel, Warwick Davis, Dempsey Bryk, Joanne Whalley. Lucasfilm Television, Imagine Television Studios, MGM Television. Disney+.