As TV and movie companies continue to push out sequels and adaptations to the ever-demanding masses, many can’t help but be nostalgic for a time when television and movies had been creative and ‘good.’ With this nostalgia comes reboots and remakes, which can help welcome in some new fans, but can often upset the older fans who loved the original series or movie. No better example of this has been Netflix’s ‘Winx Club’ remake.
I went into ‘Fate: The Winx Saga’ unbiased, as someone who did not grow up watching the original ‘Winx Club’ when I was growing up. I read articles before watching the series discussing how terrible the show looked, and I will admit I also thought the graphics looked cheesy, but I had been willing to give it a chance regardless because I know how strongly people feel about reboots and remakes.
I tried to be optimistic about this new show, however this optimism faded quickly once I finished the first episode. The appeal of a boarding school for fairies had lost its luster, and all I was left with was a rather dull show with bland plots and an even blander looking cast.
However, there had been a few elements of the show I liked. I think the writers and creative team had a great idea in creating a darker, spookier reboot of a classic television show—especially with the amount of success ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ also had on Netflix—as well as having the setting in a boarding school to appeal to fans of media like ‘Harry Potter.’ I also appreciated that unlike earlier versions of the series, both genders could be fairies and specialists, rather than just girls being fairies and just boys being specialists, who were in charge of watching over the kingdoms. While this seems like the bare minimum, and it is, it was nice to see this effort made, and it means that there is more of a possibility for non-binary and gender non-conforming characters.
Overall, though, the show felt like a flop to me. Two of the main fairies—Flora and Musa—had been whitewashed in their casting, with Flora, a fairy based off Jennifer Lopez, being renamed to Terra and cast with a white actress, and Musa, an East-Asian fairy, being cast with an actress whose resume said she could play a variety of races, though East-Asian was not one of them.
The LGBTQ+ representation—or lack thereof—had also been a major letdown as well. The show only has one clearly LGBTQ+ character, and even his sexuality was up in the air (which is completely valid, these characters are still teenagers and are allowed to explore their sexualities) and was often used as the butt of many jokes. The character’s ‘best friend’—who seemed like a terrible friend to me—often made crude comments asking the character about what gender he thinks about kissing, and in one scene, the best friend and his girlfriend were smoking, and invited the character to join in, implying that he’d enjoy being a scenario with both of them. Though the show is marketed as TV-MA, many of the viewers may be young teenagers, and language and actions such as this can be extremely harmful, especially if the teenagers are struggling with their own sexualities. This sort of representation is something I would expect from a television show five years ago, but it’s 2021, and Netflix has been known for their inclusive shows such as ‘I Am Not Okay With This,’ ‘Hollywood,’ ‘Sex Education,’ and ‘Trinkets,’ just to name a few, so this feels like a major step back.
The special effects and graphics also felt lackluster, and even borderline comical and tacky at times. The effects used on the eyes of the fairies to indicate their powers in action resembled the special effects from early 2000s Sci-Fi movies, though I could put that aside since the actual powers—especially Terra’s, Stella’s, and Aisha’s—had been fairly impressive. However, during Bloom’s ‘transformation,’ which circulated around Twitter for how terrible it looked, I had to laugh at the graphics and animations. I believe the directing team had been going for a nostalgic or timeless feel, however I think there are ways to do that without making the scenes tacky.
Last, and one of the main factors I would consider a reason to avoid watching this series, is how boring it felt. Despite how action packed each episode was, there had been a lot of world-building the writers had to cram into six episodes, which made the episodes drag on. When it came to conflicts, they had been quickly patched up after episodes of issues, or left without any resolutions. I found it hard to get through many episodes of the season, and often zoning out or scrolling on my phone during individual episodes. If the show gets renewed for a second season, I would love to see better pacing in each episode.
In the wake of remakes and reboots, and as ‘dark’ remakes such as ‘Riverdale,’ ‘Nancy Drew,’ and Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ become more well-loved and more mainstream in the production rooms - much to the dismay of movie and TV fans and fans of the original creations alike - it can be understandable why ‘Fate: The Winx Saga’ would want to jump on this bandwagon. However, as many of these ‘dark’ and ‘edgy’ remakes go, it seems to be a great idea in theory, but poorly executed in practice.
While there had been parts of ‘Fate: The Winx Saga’ I enjoyed, most of it fell flat for me, and if it were to be renewed for a second season, plenty of work in terms of special effects and writing would definitely be needed, at least in my opinion.