SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER’s NOELLE STEVENSON Brings Queer Representation to MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE

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Credit: Netflix

Credit: Netflix

Spoilers ahead for She-Ra And The Princesses of Power Season 5.

Friday, May 15th Netflix premiered the last 13 episodes of She-Ra And The Princesses of Power. Season 5 explored new relationships, including the rekindled and growing bond of Catra and Adora. Following traumatic events, they find each other again and admit their love for one another, sealed with a kiss. The show concluded with the princesses and their allies defeating Horde Prime, bringing magic back to Etheria as they all find their own meaning for love.

She-Ra may have come to an end, but luckily Newsarama had the chance to talk to creator and showrunner, Noelle Stevenson, about all the key moments from the series finale. We discuss Catra and Adora’s monumental kiss, the other brewing romances the show teased, and the importance of queer representation in children’s media.

Newsarama: Noelle, congrats on your last season of She-Ra. Production wise, why do you feel Season 5 was the perfect time to end the show?

Noelle Stevenson: I actually felt really lucky with this story because it was something where we kind of knew what our episode order was from the start. So, we can tailor the story and character arcs to the number of episodes that we had, which is not something that you get very often in animation. You’re usually not sure if you’ll get another season after the first one or how many seasons you’ll get.

Credit: Netflix

Very early on we knew we had 52 episodes so we could tailor the story to that exactly. I think it worked out wonderfully, just being able to build to a conclusion. I think that the show is exactly as long as it needs to be and the story that it tells is exactly the story that we wanted to tell. I think that the best part about a lot of journeys is the way we say goodbye. So, being able to leave on a high note of these emotional goodbyes from these characters that we’ve gotten so close to is a good feeling. And it’s one that I feel very grateful for.

Nrama: Adora is powerless for a good portion of the season. Why did you decide to do this for her character arc this season?

Stevenson: Adora’s journey as She-Ra has been very difficult for her over the course of this show. She’s never really felt comfortable as She-Ra. She’s been trying really, really hard to be what she thinks the perfect She-Ra should be, but it’s difficult for her. It’s not one that she ever feels comfortable with in that role. And then when she found out that she’s not even the hero Adora thought she was, that was a struggle for her.

She’s actually intended as a key piece of this weapon. So, to have Adora reckon with that and actually come to terms with who she is outside of She-Ra, outside of this destiny that’s just assumed she had, she needed to come to terms with that before she could unlock She-Ra again. It really is just like questioning the role of that chosen one trope and questioning what it really means to be a hero. And that is something Adora needs to do before she can be that hero.

Nrama: Season 5 also marked Catra’s redemption arc, why did you want to wait to explore this for the last season of the show?

Stevenson: Catra’s arc defines the arc of the whole show. In a lot of ways, Catra’s decisions and her path really define the shape this show takes. The moment of Catra’s redemption and switching sides is something that’s been anticipated for so long. Because of the damage she has that goes so deeply, I really don’t think there is any way to pull her off of that path short of her reaching that path, logical conclusion, and coming to the decision herself. It’s something she wanted and she needed to change her path and who she is. She needs to figure out what it is that she really wants.

It’s something we wanted to build anticipation to, and we needed to see her hit rock bottom, before she could rebuild herself. That’s what makes this last season so rewarding, it’s just that we’ve been anticipating that for so long and to finally see her make the right decision is – it’s a very rewarding one.

Credit: Netflix

Nrama: Why did you want to wait until the end for Adora and Catra to get together and kiss?

Stevenson: It’s something I’ve been very passionate about with this story. This is really these two characters’ stories. I also have never seen a romance plot like this in genre fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, epic stories that I’ve always loved and I wanted to change that.

I really wanted to see what it would look like to have a central key plot which is a romance between two women and one that we’ve been crafting for so many seasons. It wasn’t something I just wanted for the show or in terms of representation, but I really felt that it was what the characters needed as well. That was the resolution to their arc that I felt they needed to have.

Nrama: Digging even deeper into that, in the past five years we’ve been seeing more queer representation in kid’s programming – The Loud House, Steven Universe, Legend of Korra, and of course She-Ra. Why do you think queer representation is important in children’s programming?

Stevenson: The media that we watch from when we are young is something that really is part of creating our own identities. So, the thing that you see in the media that is formative to you that is sort of how you’re going to view the world and yourself. So, to never see yourself reflected or to never know that being a gay person, living a life where you can be with the person you want to be, not even knowing that’s an option or not seeing the stories reflected can take a toll on you and makes you feel lesser. 

So, it was something I just really needed to do. I’ve always felt a strong conviction that we needed to represent that because it is life changing. It’s such a huge deal to be able to show that you can have this happy ending. You can live this life with a positive relationship with the person that you love, and to see that modeled that’s very, very important to me.

Whether it’s kids who see themselves in the characters or other kids who maybe don’t relate to that aspect quite as much, but they might understand someone in their life who’s gay or have more empathy and understanding. It’s trying to craft a narrative that can hopefully save our real world existence in building a kinder and brighter world.

Credit: Netflix

Nrama: There were a few hints of other romances as well this season – Bow and Glimmer and maybe even Scorpia and Perfuma. Are these relationships you wish you had even more time to explore?  

Stevenson: The final two episodes are about love, but it’s also about love in all its forms. I do think that there have been romances brewing with the other characters. I think Bow and Glimmer are one of them. Perfuma and Scorpia are at the very beginning of that. Showing the characters embrace that same kind of love, that Catra and Adora are embracing, having that be something just so powerful for them. It changes the world around them, unlocking this magic. It was the theme of the show and we wanted to show that with every single character in different ways. Some of that love isn’t romantic, some of it is familial, some of it is friendship, but there are quite a few romances at the heart of it as well. And all of those types of love are equally powerful and all of them were things we wanted to spotlight.

Credit: Netflix

Nrama: The last episode also takes the time to show the development between Catra, Adora, and Shadow Weaver’s family dynamic. Narratively, why do you think it was important that Shadow Weaver made that sacrifice for them?

Stevenson: I think the question is for Catra and Adora we see them rebuild their relationship this season, but there is a huge aspect of their paths that I don’t think either of them had gained any closure on and that is their relationship with Shadow Weaver. Arguably, Shadow Weaver was the person that kind of drove them apart initially. Both of them have been really affected by her and really traumatized by her in a lot of ways.

Now they’ve gained a little bit more perspective, they’ve gained a little bit more of a handle on their own emotions and their own understanding of their own emotions. What’s going to allow them to get past Shadow Weaver in order to gain that closure?

Personally, I don’t believe Shadow Weaver is redeemed. One good action doesn’t cancel everything else out. It takes work. You have to really commit to it, and I don’t think she does. But I do think it’s what Catra and Adora need, she gives them that one thing and she’s still kind of smug about it, which I love. Till the end, she’s still ends up being a little bit of a terrible person. But it is this moment of this first time of a selfless act from her. One that allows them, whether or not they’ve actually forgiven her, to move forward without her in their life.

You don’t stop caring about people even if they’ve hurt you. People who shape us, people who are in authority of us during those formative years, they don’t stop mattering to us just because we don’t want to think about them or care about them anymore. But I think that’s their relationship with Shadow Weaver – just because they don’t want to, they do care about her. So, having her do that one good thing for them, that’s finally given them the step they need to really grow past her and really become their own people, no longer in her shadow.

Credit: Netflix

Nrama: To wrap up, with so many He-Man stories coming out, would you like to continue to work in the Masters of the Universe world?

Stevenson: This story is done for now. She-Ra the way it exists has reached its conclusion and it’s the arc and ending I wanted. So, if there ever were a continuation of these stories, I just want it to be motivated by the right thing. I would want it to be a story that feels necessary and an arc that feels like it really adds to the lore instead of just sort of continues it for the sake of continuing it. I’m interested to see what direction the rest of the Masters of The Universe franchise takes, but I’m really proud to have made the self-contained story as well.

To give She-Ra her own story because I don’t think she’s ever had her own in a way that hasn’t been super plugged into He-Man or the Masters of the Universe. So, to be able to do this one self-contained story with this version of this character, I think that’s really powerful and I’m really proud of having done that.

I think that there’s definitely a possibility that her story could continue, but I am very happy with where we leave them. And, so, I just want to make sure that it felt like the right thing. It feels like what needs to be done. Sometimes the most powerful thing in the stories that we love is the way you say goodbye, and I feel really satisfied with the way we said goodbye to these characters.

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