TV Review: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power & the “Friends of Mara”

Developed by ND “Nate” Stevenson for Netflix streaming and released in late 2018, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power was a redux of the 1985 show of the same name and a stand alone piece in the Masters of the Universe He-Man franchise. 

While only briefly mentioning the famed Kingdom of Greyskull and staying open-ended enough to allow future works in the franchise, like Kevin Smith’s recent He-Man reboot and re-imagining on Netflix, it tells a new story with old characters in a crisp new animated look. 

Running for five seasons, from 2018 to 2020, with 52 episodes, the show was widely well-received. A strong fan base is still active online, particularly on Reddit and Tumblr. Along with strong praise from fans, it garnered nominations for a GLAAD Media Award in 2018, a Daytime Emmy at the 46th Emmy’s, and won a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding kid and family entertainment in 2021. 

Taking place on the distant magical planet of Etheria, we follow Adora as she escapes from service in the Evil Horde’s fascist and imperialist army, having to choose between destiny and freedom or her lifelong friend and comrade, Catra. 

While on patrol Adora discovers a magical relic, an ancient sword that imbues the chosen righteous with the ability to transform into the Mighty Princess of Power, She-Ra. Using these newfound powers, Adora joins the Native Etherians Rebellion against the Horde in defense of their living magic world. 

Seeking to rebuild the Princess Alliance, a league of the strongest magical kingdoms, in order to defeat the Horde. Adora meets and befriends many characters based off of the 1985 series. As the rebellion strengthens and war breaks out, we learn the dark truth of the Horde, where their reinforcements come from, and what their true intentions on Etheria are. 

Throughout the series Adora and Catra’s relationship is examined as they grow up in the custody of the Horde, trained as child soldiers. Their loyal friendship and betrayal when Adora leaves, the anger and jealousy as Catra is sent to capture her, and the passion as their love for each other allows them to triumph.

It’s worth noting that She-Ra has also been praised for its diverse case of characters and voice actors, canonically queer characters are instigating the “Friends of Mara” meme allowing queer folks to subtly announce themselves as such – even attaining a page defining it as such on Urban Dictionary, which is famous and notorious for cataloging new slang terms and turns of phrase. 

Between the uniquely stylized animation, on point storytelling reflecting our own fights against corrupt institutions, and the beautifully emotional ending. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is definitely worth watching, especially if you enjoy fangirling as much as myself.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Aimee Carrero, AJ Michalka, Karen Fukuhara, Marcus Scribner. Dreamworks Animation. Netflix.

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