*Full disclosure: I watched the whole thing in one sitting – don’t judge me. But there are no spoilers ahead, don’t worry.
Growing up in the early 2000s’, my childhood was ruled by the presence of strong friendship groups (Bratz), coming of age adventures (W.I.T.C.H.), badass missions (Totally Spies) and magical battles of good and evil (Winx Club). The comics, books, movies, Gameboy games from these storylines take up a big part of my memories. With that being said, any throwback or reference to these classics is a wave of nostalgia, transporting me back to when I’d pretend I could see Jerry giving me missions for WOOHP through my toy mirror or that I had control over one of the core elements (water, fire, earth, air). So imagine my excitement (and dread, really, because live-action adaptations rarely live up to their literary counterparts) when Netflix announced they’d be dropping a live-action version of Winx, the fairies of Alfea who’d battle good and evil while learning to harness their powers, dubbed “Fate: The Winx Saga”.
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Netflix originally shared a teaser trailer for the upcoming show, to introduce the girls who’d be taking on the roles of Bloom (Abigail Cowen), Stella (Hannah van der Westhuysen), Musa (Elisha Applebaum), and Aisya (Precious Mustapha). Techna is nowhere to be seen, just FYI, while Flora is now known as “Terra”. However, general reception for it was less than lukewarm, with many claiming that Netflix had effectively “killed their childhood.” The series received backlash over the casting of Applebaum as Musa, who was coded as East Asian and whose character design was based on Lucy Liu, as well as the apparent replacement of Flora, who was coded as Latina and whose character design was based on Jennifer Lopez, with a new character named Terra.
— Mellow_Miriam 🇺🇸 🇨🇩 (@Mellow_Miriam) December 10, 2020
Of course, it wouldn’t work for Netflix to do a live adaptation that follows too closely to the comics. In the same vein that they’ve followed with ‘Riverdale’ and ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’, Netflix has effectively taken the premise (and capitalised on the large following) that the existing story has to introduce a “gritter” take on the otherwise sparkly, sunnier version. The synopsis of the Netflix version is already heavier than the original, lightly described as:
“The series follows the adventures of a group of girls known as the Winx, students (and later graduates) at the Alfea College for Fairies, who turn into fairies to fight villains.”
With Netflix’s version stating that the show is :
“The coming-of-age journey of five fairies attending Alfea, a magical boarding school in the Otherworld where they must learn to master their powers while navigating love, rivalries, and the monsters that threaten their very existence,”
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Now, the series is directed by the show creator of “The Vampire Diaries”, Brian Young, so it is expected that similarities between the two shows can be found. Both are supernatural and both centre around young adults. With Cowen (Bloom) having played Dorcas on the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”, she emotes in a similar way to what was seen in the older show. “Fate” also draws parallels with “Sabrina” in the way that you see a central character who’s got a connection to the supernatural, has to juggle this magic with school and relationships and of course, there’s the element of romance.
And if you’re still on the fence about whether or not you should try out the new six-part series, Netflix has dropped a longer, more action-packed trailer ahead of today’s release of the show.
Will it be the next big breakout Netflix series? We’ll see. The show doesn’t do too badly in keeping us OG Winx Club fans reeled in. There’s just enough mentions and connection to the original comics to keep me hooked. The graphics were not TOO lame – you know how a lot of TV shows end up trying really hard with CGI, but it just looks too forced? ‘Fate’ does a good job blending in the CGI magic with the live-action scenes. So if you loved the magic of Alfea in the comics, give the show a chance (like really, at least make it past episode 3 and you’ll be pleasantly surprised).