Written by Tayla Hawkes.
When I heard that Netflix would be making a live-action series one of my favourite childhood animations, The Winx Club, I was so excited for a fun and fluffy show with magical abilities and found female friendships. However, the hope I had felt of being transported back to the cotton candy dreams of my early childhood where I was a fire fairy (yes, Bloom was always my favourite) walking the grounds of Alfea College, were quickly ruined as I watched the first trailer of Fate: The Winx Saga, my disappointment only growing larger as I eventually watched the whole six-episode series.
Fate: The Winx Saga follows our main protagonist Bloom, played by Abigail Cowen , a 16-year-old fire fairy who was raised as a human in California before enrolling at Alfea College once she learns of her once dormant fairy powers. There she meets her suitemates and things really get interesting. From a whitewashed cast, to unimportant love triangles and the most basic of tropes, this is all what went wrong with Fate: The Winx Saga.
Whitewashing at its Finest
While Bloom, Stella (Hannah van der Westhuysen) and Aisha (Precious Mustapha) are all very reminiscent of the early cartoon versions of their characters, the castings of Musa and Terra have caused a lot of controversy among fans. Musa, who is depicted as East Asian in the original show, is played by Elisha Applebaum, a white-passing British actress. Terra (who is supposed to be Flora from the original show – I know I’m just as confused by this character change as you are), is played by Eliot Salt, another white British actress instead of someone who is of Latinx decent.
A lot of fans took to Twitter to express their disappointment with the way casting was handled, saying that The Winx Club once stood for empowering diversity and was a show that for many young people of colour and different ethnic backgrounds, was the first time they saw themselves represented on screen.
The fact that in 2021, the casting directors could not reflect the same amount of diversity as a show created in 2004 shows the lack of thought and care that went into bringing this series to life.
Also, where is my girl Tecna? In an age of digitalisation, surely a representation of a tech-savvy empowering female would have been a great addition? But no. It seems the writers and producers of this show were only concerned with turning a light-hearted and colourful show into a moody and dark academia type ensemble, which doesn’t sound surprising since the show was created by Brian Young, former writer and story editor for The Vampire Diaries.
Another thing that baffled me upon watching Fate: The Winx Saga is the way they approached the female friendships. The Winx Club was a show all about a group of girl best friends who together faced challenges within their magical world, whereas Fate seems to be a show surrounding heterosexual romances, teenage angst and a lot of pitting women against each other. Instead of banding the main female characters together, we rarely see any of them in the same room and instead see them broken up into their own storylines, barely spending any time together as a group.
Bloom seems to only care about herself, turning the conversation back to her problems whenever her ‘’friends’’ are suffering or have problems of their own such as alienating Alisha when all she is trying to do is help. There is also the ‘’we can’t be friends because we like the same guy’’ trope among Bloom and Stella because of course, romantic rivals aren’t supposed to help each other and have heart-to-heart moments, are they?
Then we have Musa and her ability to make Terra feel bad about herself in every interaction they have. As Musa is a mind fairy (another twist on the original show where Musa is a music fairy), she puts Terra down for feeling too much and acts like she doesn’t even want to talk to her half the time. This dynamic then changes slightly when Musa starts dating Terra’s brother, Sam. Yay for men being the bridge between female relationships!
All in all, it seems like show couldn’t fit in enough character building to make any of the relationships seem believable so instead we only get the angst and drama that is being used to further along the plot, making the characters unbearable and uncomfortable to watch.
The Winx Saga was a major disappointment to both me and fans of the original show. If they focus on character development and put the overdone tropes to bed, maybe there is still hope for Season 2.