She-Ra and the Princesses of Power VS the Bechdel Test

Call me a feminist, I love a good woman in power. Also, pretty much anything animated, but that’s a different story. So I was intrigued to hear about Netflix’s remake of the 1985 animated series She-Ra, the Princess of Power. It’s pretty well known that the introduction of He-Man’s twin sister was meant to appeal to girls, but the sad fact is that the company’s aim was to sell toys rather than give them a strong female figure to look up to. With Netflix’s newest reboot, girls and guys alike are crowding screens to have a look at this more colourful debut.

So in the midst of critical reviews and fans hailing from both sides of the fence, I decided to put She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018) to the test. The Bechdel test, that is.

WTF is the Bechdel test?

The Bechdel test, popularised by Alison Bechdel and her comic strip Dyke to Watch Out For in 1985, is a measure of testing the female presence in movies and other works of fiction. Movies and the like are measured according to three criteria: are there at least two women present, do they interact and talk to one another, and is the discussion about anything other than a man. To put it simply, this test is used to highlight the inequality of female portrayals in films, series and books. Afterall, as much as we loved Twilight back in the day, I think we can all agree that women have more to say than to gush about a guy.

How does She-Ra measure up:

As with the original series, She-Ra is the alter-ego of the princess Adora, raised and trained by the Horde to fight on the side of evil. That is, until she meets Glimmer and Bow, her soon-to-be besties. Her badass persona is brought about by a magic sword and characteristic battlecry, “For the honour of Greyskull!”

Chills.

So, I bet you’re wondering what the scores are. Well, the characters are 95% female, they communicate with each other constantly throughout the series, and the conversation is anything other than male-centric.

She-Ra passes the Bechdel test with flying colours!

 

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Fan Criticism

Producer Noelle Stevenson, of Lumberjanes acclaim, has added a much more relatable human side to our favourite heroine, making her question friendships, foes and moral integrity among others. Most of the characters in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power are female, with the exception of Bow, one of Adora’s two besties and what I found particularly great was the fact that these characters came in different shapes and sizes, with various ethnicities and backgrounds.
Although Adora and She-Ra herself underwent a bit of a change in this reboot, trading mini-skirt for shorts, her physical appearance and height stayed pretty much identical to the predecessor series. This didn’t stop the fans — admittedly mostly male, I might add — from responding in outrage to costume changes and the younger She-Ra. Cue the transphobic and homophobic remarks.

What it did get, though, was a very big and very positive response from the LGBTQ+ community. Not of the characters are cut-and-dry heterosexual; even Bow, the only male lead, has fans in a tizzy after an episode shows him a sort of chest binder.

Overall Appeal

Okay, critical thinking aside, I really enjoyed these thirteen episodes, and look forward to the next story-arc, should the series be renewed for a second season. The animation has a very clean, clear and colourful appearance – think Ben 10, but with glitter and rainbows – and the storylines are a lot more complex than just a regular kiddies show. For anyone unsure of whether to watch it or not, I urge you to give it a try. The females are fierce and capable, and give girls great at role models to look up to.

Haven’t seen the trailer yet? Check it out here:

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