*** Warning: This piece contains spoilers for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power ***
The end of a journey is a special time. While often bittersweet, it’s a great time for reflection, and to look back on how far you’ve come since the beginning. One journey that I’m having a hard time reconciling and tucking away for good is the end of Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princess of Power. Season 5 of the series felt as close to perfect as any TV show could be. From start to finish, She-Ra not only delivered a perfect story on screen, but watching it has been its own little perfect journey for me personally over the years.
Unlike many others who grew up in the 80s, I didn’t really know much about She-Ra. I’m not sure why I never watched or got into it, but that phase seems to have just passed me by. So when I heard of the Netflix remake a few years ago, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that Noelle Stevenson, known for Nimona and the Lumberjanes comics, was behind it and it seemed to be full of girl power. Looking back now, I almost laugh at how naive I was because it was more. So much more.
I embarked on the She-Ra journey in Season 1 with my then 6 year old in tow. She loves all things rainbows and unicorns so I figured she’d be the perfect viewing companion. Little did I know how deeply we’d both fall in love with the amazing journey that Stevenson and her team were about to gift us. We eagerly pressed play on those first episodes and never turned back. From laughing out loud together at Swiftwind and his jokes, to wanting to be a part of the Best Friends Squad, and bopping along and singing out loud to the theme song every time it played, She-Ra was something my daughter and I seemed to enjoy with equal amounts of fervor. As a parent who has suffered through long, long, LONG hours watching other cartoons or whatever show my kids were currently obsessed with, actually enjoying and loving something together to that degree is a feeling that doesn’t happen often.
It was also remarkable to see heroes that were so relatable. Adora embarked out on her journey, trying to decide whether or not she could become this hero, She-Ra. She soon found out that being a hero was hard, and it felt good to know my daughter was seeing and learning the very valuable lesson that no one is perfect. Even 8 foot tall heroes with impeccable hair and a cool sword don’t get things right all the time. The characters of She-Ra were all flawed, far from perfect, and even kind of messy at times. These were exactly the types of heroes I wanted my daughter backing. It showed time and again how it’s OK to make mistakes and fail, but what’s important is that we never stop fighting for what’s right.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter, people started immediately mocking and jokily asking if I would care if she wore pink. Growing up I was constantly described as a tomboy and actively picked sports pants over dresses any day of the week. So I guess the notion that I could be having a child that loved pink, dresses, frills, and acting like a princess seemed prosperous and comical to those people. While I never imposed my own style preferences on either of my daughters, the oldest does prefer athletic clothing like myself, but the youngest is her own little woman. She loves getting dressed up and is basically that pink, rainbow loving little girl that so many people thought would be hilarious for me to have.
When we decided to tune into She-Ra, I immediately loved the way it highlighted all the many ways one can be a girl. Those differences were encompassed in all of the different princesses and we both were each able to see ourselves in one of them. Mermista’s droll sarcasm tickled me every time she appeared, while my daughter adored Scorpia’s positivity and Perfuma’s fancy dresses. Far from the “perfect” Disney princesses that most kids get nonstop exposed to, the princesses on She-Ra reflected different ways to be feminine and strong. They certainly didn’t need princes to come along and kiss them, let alone rescue them! Together, we immediately became invested in each and every princess we met because none of them were shoved to the side. They each had their own interesting backstory and all of them were important and crucial to the rebellion.
With each passing season of She-Ra the storylines kept us on the edge of our seat. We’d giddily sit down together in hopes of catching one or two episodes, but then I’d often find myself pushing off bedtime again after chants of “Just one more!” I knew I wanted another episode just as badly as my daughter did. It became one of our most special activities together and something we both looked forward to. It was precious uninterrupted time together where we’d laugh, grasp hands, and hold our breaths together as Adora and the princesses raced on into another fight.
While the sheer joy and experience would have been enough for me, as a parent, the fact that She-Ra also showcased racial diversity, body diversity, and gender parity was just icing on the cake. I often try to tell my kids that not everyone has a family that looks like us: a mom, a dad, and two kids. I’m constantly trying to expose them to the many different kinds of love and family that exist. It was something that She-Ra did with such ease. From married princesses Spinnerella and Netossa, to Bow’s two dads, and a gender-fluid foe, Double Trouble, in Season 4, She-Ra helped broaden my child’s horizons without making any of it feel like I was lecturing her or reading straight from a boring book.
Of the many things that She-Ra did right though, perhaps the biggest lesson it imparts is that we all, no matter who we are, are deserving of love. In the end, it was Adora and Catra’s love that saved the day, a love that was so well-earned. Watching Catra’s journey over the course of the entire series was extremely rewarding. I can’t tell you how many times my daughter and I would scream, “Someone give Catra a hug!” at the TV screen, but like any She-Ra character, Catra was far from perfect. She couldn’t just apologize for all the bad things she had done and expect to be forgiven. No, she had to sacrifice and win Adora back.
Meanwhile, Adora had to go through her own journey to be able to meet Catra at the end when it mattered most. Throughout the years, we watched as Adora made real friends, found her own family, and began to rely on and trust them. She slowly started to realize that letting people love you doesn’t mean that you’re a burden to them. Mara telling She-Ra, “You’re worth more than what you can give to other people. You deserve love too” was such a fitting final lesson for our hero, and for my daughter and I sitting there at home, to learn.
She-Ra’s lessons about love, kindness, and leading with your heart are ones we can both take forward together as our journey in life continues. In a recent discussion about the end of the series, I explained to my daughter that unfortunately everything eventually has to end. She responded promptly with a “Not She-Ra!She-Ra should never end,” but we still find ourselves faced with the end of this wondrous journey. Thankfully, much like all of the characters at the end of the show, the She-Ra team has left us in a better place than they found us. My heart feels full knowing my daughter will take the lessons she’s learned from this show forward with her as she makes her way into the world. Until then, we’re going to rewatch and set off on finding her a Melog of her very own.
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She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is streaming now on Netflix.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.