This one is gonna be a bit rant-y so be prepared.
If you don’t know, let me catch you up! The Winx Club was an Italian television animated series as well as comics created by Iginio Straffi all the way back in 2004. If you are original fans of the show you might remember the english dub being aired on the 4Kids network which sadly went bankrupt. It was given new life by Nickelodeon in 2011 which aired a few of the remaining seasons. In 2016, a Winx spin off called World of Winx was put on Netflix for it’s only two season run.
Now that you know some history, let’s get into what the story is about. Our main character is Bloom (Abigail Cowen), who discovers that she is a fairy after getting into an altercation with another fairy named Stella. Bloom is secretly from a devastated planet called Domino or Sparks (if you remember the 4Kids dub) and is the wielder of the Dragon flame, the strongest fairy magic there is. Stella ( Hannah van der Westhuysen) then introduces Bloom to the magical world and she decided to go study her magic at Alfea, a school for fairies where they learn how to master their magic to eventually graduate and become guardian fairies of their home planets. At the school we meet the rest of the club: Musa (Elisha Applebaum) who is fairy of music, Tecna, the fairy of technology, and Flora, the fairy of nature. In the second season, we get our final member of the group, Aisha (Precious Mustapha) who is the fairy of waves.
The world is filled with other magical creatures and other magical schools. Red Fountain is an all boys school where the students study to become Specialists. They learn how to fight, use cool weapons, tame/ catch wild magical creatures who got loose and work to become warriors. But the biggest adversaries for the Winx are the witches who attend Cloud Tower. The main antagonists of the show are a trio of witches: Icy, Darcy and Stormy. They are involved in pretty much every plot to destroy the fairies and take over the magical universe. Along side evil wizards, are evil fairies, evil old witches and so on.
So, Netflix decided: hey, let’s do that but not really. Let’s get into the biggest changes the new live action adaptation has made. Let me preface this by saying, I am not against changes or shortening things for the sake of an adaptation if it makes sense for the story you are telling. But some of these changes…..
Here is a list for your convenience.
#1 Flora doesn’t Matter I guess
One of the core characters, Flora, was replaced in the show with a character named Terra, who is played by Eliot Salt. Terra is a fairy of nature just like Flora and the gag is… she’s supposedly Flora’s cousin. Also, Terra has a brother who goes to school with them. So you’re really telling me you thought it be fine to bring back most of the other original characters but decide to create cousins for Flora… instead of I don’t know, just hiring a Latinx woman to play her? The original Winx Club was praised for it’s inclusivity, and writing out one of the only other brown girls in the main group makes no sense to me.
#2 Tecna who?
Along with Flora not being in the show proper, another core member of the club, Tecna, just doesn’t exist now. She specialized in techno-magic, was undoubtedly was the smartest in the group and did most of the leg work for the show. In the original series, the girls would’ve been lost without her and her exclusion can’t help but make me think that there will be a major dynamic shift in the group for the live action. Cartoons and shows have thrived using different types of people in groups to see how they fair. You have the ditzy, fun loving one which is Stella. Tecna is the studious and collected one, Musa is the emotional, musical one, Bloom is the sweet generic one, Aisha is ambitious and sporty and Flora is literally the mom of the group.
I truly do hope it’s not blatant obvious that Tecna isn’t there.
#3 The Trix don’t exist but Be-a-trix does
You get it? Her name’s a pun! Hilarious. Like I said previously, Icy, Darcy and Stormy are the biggest foil to our group. They are the big bad the first season then go one to being seconds to the main villains in others. For the live action, we are getting a single character who is a fairy who goes to Alfea with the other girls named Beatrix (Sadie Soverall). She’s supposedly a “troublemaker” and there is no real indication yet on whether she will be the main villain of the show. But my problem is that I’m not scared of her! I’m not even a little bit intimidated. All I’ve seen her do is ask for a room temperature water like a mean girl in high school that you can’t take seriously. The original witches had a great sense of presence, from their wardrobe to how severe they were they threw their spells. Beatrix gives me nothing. Like, girl, just sit down somewhere, sip on you room temp water while you wait until your rich parents to send the limo round for you.
#4 The aesthetic is giving me “witchy,” not fairy
Another problem is the feel of the show. It feels like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, just minus the devil and orgies. The shots we’ve seen in the trailer and teaser scream more dark academia than Tinkerbell, you know? With the witches not being in show, it takes away one of the core dynamics in the show, the clear difference between fairies and witches. The fairies rarely wear dark colors, they are all about pastels, and flowing tops and skirts, hearts; think cottage core circa Britney Spears in the early 2000’s. And the witches pretty much one wear dark clothes. If not, they accessories with fish nests, long nails, etc; think e-girl circa Christina Aguilera/Avril Lavigne in the early 2000’s. These choices were made to not only diversfy the fashions but to make it clear on who the fairies are and who the witches are. Clothing, hair and costuming are a huge part of story telling, an IMPORTANT part and the fashion they gave these girls were less than disappointing.
I mean, look at the material!
But this is what we got.
Alfea doesn’t look magical in the way Hogwarts did. There is nothing special about it and it doesn’t look inviting. With other magical schools, you can just tell that magic runs through the very foundation of it but it looks a bit boring to me.
#5 Everything else!
Let’s go rapid fire on this one, folks. None of the iconic teachers are present from what we’ve seen, which is really unfortunate. Red Fountain doesn’t exist anymore and everyone goes to the same school which will help lead to romance drama and love triangles. It’s 2021, people; have we not evolved pass the need for love triangles? Stella seems completely different from her animated counterpart. For some reason, everyone is from the UK. There were no other UK brown girls who could be Flora though? Still wondering why and still waiting for an explanation. Musa’s actress is very white, passing which again removes a lot of the diversity that was in the original show. She’s also no longer the fairy of music but she is now an empath. Empathy was a part of her power but it wasn’t her main power. How is she supposed to defend herself?
The girls no longer have, at least from what we’ve seen, anime-esque magical girl fairy transformations. There are creatures called the Burned ones who attack the girls. Okay? A lot of the Specialists that we know and love don’t seem to be present except for Sky (Danny Griffin) because of course and Riven (Freddie Thorp). You don’t bring back Sky’s best boy Brandon but keep Riven who no one likes?! Again, CHOICES! The show looks super dark- not theme wise; I’m fine with it being dark and sort of scary because the original was but actually dark. Am I the only one who’ve noticed that a lot of Netflix originals have horrible lighting?
Okay, I think that’s everything for now. FATE: The Winx Saga will become available on Netflix today: Friday, January 22!
Check out the trailer if you want, and I will be back with my full thoughts. I will also be live tweeting my reactions to make sure you are following Bookstr on Twitter! All of these opinions come from me as a genuine fan and what Netflix has provided but I will try to keep an open mind. Let me know if you are excited or terrified, or just intrigued by this show. And are going to watch because you are excited, terrified or intrigued?