The XX Factor

Reassessing She-Ra, 25 Years Later

She-Ra: Princess of Power was the girlcentric spin-off of the hugely popular animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe , and the first DVD from the first season is being released this week. Upon her 1985 debut, the sword-wielding superheoine seemed to have it all, at least to my 8-year-old self: She-Ra fought evil, rode around on a unicorn with rainbow wings named Swiftwind, had a naturally pink-haired friend named Glimmer, and wore a white minidress with aplomb.

Rewatching the animated series, I realized that white minidress doesn’t age especially well. Though in retrospect She-Ra remains admirably independent-she opts to return to her home planet to lead a rebellion-the characterizations are broad. What little humor there is to be found seems purely unintentional, like the pink tent with a folded, hooded opening that Glimmer lives in that seems pretty vaginal. Perhaps it’s a lot to ask that a cartoon series have snappy dialogue, but this is awfully stilted:

He-Man: I don’t understand this. You say you are my sister, but I never had a sister.

She-Ra: I know how you feel. I never dreamed I had a brother.

That bit of stellar repartee is from a scene in which He-Man-aka Prince Adam, defender of the planet Eternia-learns he was born a twin. His sister Adora was kidnapped at birth by the villain Hordak and taken to the planet Etheria, where she was brainwashed into working for his Evil Horde. Like any good heroic journey, she learns of her past and, through a magical Sword of Protection becomes the superhero She-Ra, joins the Great Rebellion, and commits to being, as her disco-inflected theme song suggests, the champion of light in a land where darkness rules.

Because there are so few kick-ass female cartoon protagonists in America, she’s definitely deserving of the DVD box set treatment, if only as a role model for young viewers (or, more likely, for those of us who watched her the first time around and have a soft spot for ’80s cartoon heroines). And while the full series is supposed to come out later this year complete with stickers, the first volume in the set seems hastily thrown together. Not only are there no special features, but the title is misspelled (“She-Ra: Princes of Power”) on the back cover. The series may be flawed, but She-Ra at least deserves a thorough copy edit.