TV Review: Fate: The Winx Saga

Córa-Laine Moynihan

Fate: The Winx Saga is another romp in the hay for Netflix when taking childhood favourite shows and mixing them with sex, drugs, and violence. The girly, hope-filled cartoon of our youth has now been replaced by another dark and controversial adaptation.

Nostalgia is such a warm and fuzzy feeling to have. To be lost in memories of days gone by and to enjoy passing moments of glee, that is the pleasure of nostalgia. That’s how I felt at the news that the magical Saturday morning animation of my childhood was going to be getting a Netflix adaptation.

Winx Club was one of those shows that I vividly remember jumping on my siblings so that they would turn the TV on for us to watch it. It had the kind of catchy introduction music that would stick in your head hours later, and you would find yourself humming it as you played with your toys. The show had everything a young child would enjoy: magic, battles, romance, and mysteries – and I cannot forget to mention the focus on fashion. It fuelled imaginations with desires to be fairies like no other show could. It was a colourful, fantastical, and entertaining 20 minutes of the day.

Netflix of all media giants had the potential to make it’s live-action adaptation a heart-warming and joyful experience. Instead, they gave it the Riverdale treatment.

It had many expectations and experiences to check the criteria of

Had they marketed and produced Fate: The Winx Saga as an independent, brand new story, I may have been more lenient with my liking of it. However, it had a lot to live up to by being an adaptation of Italian cartoon Winx Club. It had many expectations and experiences to check the criteria of. The initial trailer did raise some red flags that Fate would not be the same as the light-hearted animation I remembered, showing a much grittier and darker tone for the show, but I thought I would give it a go.

The show follows Bloom, a girl that recently discovered that she was a fairy, as she joins the renowned academy for fairies and specialists (pretty much soldiers) known as Alfea. There she attempts to uncover her past and heritage, much like in the original animation, alongside partying, drinking, and flirting – not so much like the original. Whilst there, she forms a bond with a group of misfits – Stella, Aisha, Musa, and Terra – that struggle to find their place in the school, and to embrace their own magic. It is very much a coming-of-age drama, only accompanied by murder, alcohol, and drugs.

It was a good watch, yet, I would not say it was something phenomenal. It didn’t have the same addictiveness as watching Bridgerton did, or the same prowess as The Witcher in battle scenes. It focused more on cliché teen drama, with love triangles and petty arguments, topped with the occasional out-of-place feminist comment from the female characters. It was in no way true to the source material, even ridding itself of the one thing associated with fairies – wings. The magic was more like that of witches and the folklore was poorly explored. As a lover of mythology and folklore, I was excited by the mention of changelings, then dissatisfied by the topic’s abandonment.

To add to this list of disappointments, Netflix white-washed the majority of characters. Fan-favourites from the animation like Flora, who was Latina, was completely absent, and Musa was no longer East Asian. The one prominent woman of colour, Aisha, was also side-lined in the later episodes. While Terra and Musa were portrayed by the actresses to the best that they could with the writing they got, it is disappointing that the show shies away from the diversity of the cartoon.

A questionable decision to reduce the screen time of one of the only main POC characters to make room for Bloom’s reckless behaviour

Glimmers of intriguing plot lines appeared with Aisha’s struggle for control over her powers and her commitment to her moral values. It was a missed opportunity to flesh out her character, and a questionable decision to reduce the screen time of one of the only main POC characters to make room for Bloom’s reckless behaviour and scenes of drug and alcohol usage. Although drugs and alcohol is a hot topic amongst the target teen and young adult audience, it is not something that should be glorified, especially when replacing potential scenes of a young black woman’s character growth. Whilst Aisha is characterised as the trademark ‘goody-two-shoes’ of the group, it is no excuse to remove her character from party-filled and rule-breaking episodes.

If the association with Winx Club were removed, the issue of white-washing would still stand strong. Aisha would still be the only prominent WOC, and the only other POC that comes to mind is Dane, a specialist that also happens to be the only queer main character. The characters were filled with potential but quickly shoehorned as podiums for the other white characters to stand upon. Dane is reduced to a love-struck minion, following the orders of the season’s teenage criminals, and Aisha is always having to clean up Bloom’s messes, all in the name of friendship.

For anyone that adored Winx Club as a child, I suggest forgetting about the cartoon completely before diving into this pool of teen angst and chaos. However, for fans of other Netflix teen shows that scrambled their source material, like Riverdale and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, go ahead and dive right in.

Córa-Laine Moynihan

Featured image courtesy of Samet Özer via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @fatenetflix via No changes made to these images.

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