“She-Ra” Season 5 Making Adora and Catra a Canon Couple Raises a Certain Issue Online

catra and adora she-ra
Adora and Catra (Image: Screengrab)

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power saw its fifth and final season debut on Netflix on May 15, 2020. And you know what? Congratulations to the LGBTQ+ community as a whole as well as the fans of the show who had been waiting for Adora and Catra to be confirmed as a canon queer couple. But while it’s a joyous occasion for many, some people aren’t as happy.

When the series premiered back on November 13, 2018, the fandom quickly latched on to the relationship dynamic between Catra and Adora. The pairing continued to garner more fans as the episodes progressed. The two began as friends but then had a falling out due to Adora realizing she had the power of She-Ra and who the good guys were. The series did an impressive job when it came to handling the complicated feelings the two had for each other.

While many in the fandom wanted Adora and Catra to end up together, they felt it would never happen due to media’s history with handling certain queer characters. TPTB are quick to accuse viewers of always seeing same-sex relationships as romantic and blaming fandom’s shipping tendencies when in fact said relationships would feature moments that would immediately make the characters involved a couple if it involved a cis straight man and woman.

So, seeing Netflix’s She-Ra give what the fandom was hoping for was an unexpected yet very welcome gift. The series already had queer characters. That’s why the fandom understood if the show didn’t want to go ahead with making Adora and Catra a couple because the LGBTQ+ box had been checked!

I was glad to see how the entire moment wasn’t handled in an unclear manner (something that The Legend of Korra animated series is accused of). The final season of She-Ra showed the two profess their love for each other and even share a kiss. Yay, to queer couples in media that aren’t open to interpretation!

Now, coming to some people who aren’t happy, I can see where they are coming from. Adora and Catra serve as another example of media being comfortable with showing women as queer and in love. Korra and Asami from The Legend of Korra, Princess Bubblegum and Marceline from Adventure Time, and the Crystal Gems from Steven Universe being other examples. All of them are important characters that just happen to be queer.  

But where are the queer leading men in media meant for kids or similar target audience?

While I understand the frustration, what I don’t support is certain fans attacking the She-Ra fandom. The fandom isn’t to blame. In my opinion, you should blame society’s love for toxic masculinity. In a sense, for such problematic people, women being queer doesn’t take away from their femininity. However, a man being queer immediately makes him less masculine.

That’s also, in my opinion, one of the reasons why popular characters (who were perceived as straight during their debuts) like Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman have been allowed to be queer as they have continued to exist in various media.

However, where is a queer Bruce Wayne or a queer Clark Kent? If you all remember, Sony has been very adamant about keeping Peter Parker straight.

Due to toxic masculinity, there’s a problematic idea about queer men being lesser than straight men. It’s something that doesn’t seem to impact fictional women in media. Of course, queer fictional women have been exploited for the male gaze. But that’s another issue.

The topic involving Adora and Catra (who weren’t exploited for the male gaze) deals with society’s unwillingness to see even fictional men as “true” men if they even have a hint of queerness; especially if said fictional men were perceived to be straight when they first appeared.   

Maybe things will change for the better down the line. Queer representation in media has made a lot of progress. So, perhaps one day we just might get a story involving Clark Kent realizing he isn’t only attracted to women.  

Anyway, again, congratulations to the Catradora fandom! It’s a win for the entire queer community!

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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About the author

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

Comments

  1. To be fair, the show has been shipping these two since the beginning so this doesn’t surprise me at all.

    And you can call me a Hater but I just CANNOT support a relationship between characters where one has been physically or emotionally abusive towards the other.

    1. OOHHHH!!!! Kevin, the physical and/or emotional abuse thing linked to Catra and Adora’s relationship is A WHOLE OTHER CONVERSATION. Lol. I’m just happy for the fandom right now.

  2. I thought that both their relationship and Catra’s redemption arc were handled really well. It felt natural – in large part because there was an ongoing theme of forgiveness throughout the entire show. And that’s one thing I liked about it. In many ways, it was the antithesis of cancel culture, which seems to hold the belief that no one can ever change or grow or evolve as a person as one of its basic tenaments.

    In this season, we got a glimpse of who Catra could be outside of the destructive and abusive environment she was raised in with the Horde. Everyone is redeemed and accepted in this show, and it is the power of love and friendship that saves the day – and the universe.

    I definitely found Catra’s abusive behavior concerning, and there’s a lot to be said about the issue. I would love to read some discourse on that. However, she openly admitted her issues, stated that she was working on them, and, even more importantly, showed that she was able to become a new person.

    LGBTQIA+ people have always been underrepresented in media, of course, and I definitely agree with your point about masculinity (though you failed to mention Deadpool). However, this was one of the first times I’d ever really seen a wlw relationship explicitly portrayed in mainstream media between two main characters. For better or worse, there have been representations of mlm for quite a while, but lesbian relationships are almost always portrayed in sexual ways only, which I know you touched on with the male gaze commentary. This is true across almost all spaces. (If you don’t believe me, try searching for lesbian romance stories. I challenge you to find more than three on any given platform where there are hundreds, if not thousands, of mlm stories.) It’s an under-served market that I hope someone taps into.

    Catra and Adora’s story, especially the arc this season, was refreshing and sweet. I left the finale feeling happy and positive. I certainly didn’t think a kids show would make me emotional. Lol

    One nice thing, too, is that male characters in this show were not depicted in a hyper-masculine way. Sea Hawk (a pirate) and Bow (an archer) were both overtly effeminate, even though they had traditionally masculine identities and were shown or implied to be in hetero relationships. Hopefully, that was also a step in the right direction towards the kind of representation you (and many of us) want to see.

    Btw, please kindly don’t include spoilers in your article headlines. Not everyone can binge watch the entire season the moment it comes out. I wasn’t seeking articles on it – it showed up in my inbox.

    1. Yes, the Spoilery-title’s an issue I realized a bit too late. We do try to keep titles non-spoilery throughout this website. I wasn’t expecting She-Ra to actually go through with Adora and Catra’s relationship (especially cos there were already other queer characters on the show). Good for the fandom and representation as a whole!!!

  3. So your problem with it is that there aren’t enough male queer characters? Lemme just:
    Bow
    Seahawk
    Hordak
    Jewelstar
    Every character is confirmed queer, which includes male characters too! That’s right! Both Bow and Seahawk are confirmed as either bi or pan, Jewelstar is confirmed trans, and Hordak is, well, not confirmed but every character is queer and that includes him and I have a lot of queer headcanons about Hordak that I worked out using science.

    1. Nope. That’s not the issue here. We’re talking about animation that’s more kid-centric not having ‘lead’ queer men and having their romantic lives explored. But the fault falls more on certain societal expectations about masculinity, the reason why Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Wonder Woman being queer (or confirmed to be queer years after their creation), but never ‘lead’ male characters such as Batman, Superman, etc., not even in alternate versions.

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