For fans of the 2004 animated series Winx Club, news that Netflix was going to air a live-action remake was initially exciting. However, once more details about the remake, titled Fate: The Winx Saga, were released, many fans’ excitement soon dwindled into dread.
As someone who remembers loving Winx Club as a child, I knew I had to watch Fate: The Winx Saga, not only because of the nostalgia but also to see just how badly Netflix managed to fumble the ball on this remake. Netflix’s history with remakes has been rocky and filled with several disappointments, from much-criticized anime remakes to adaptations of classic TV shows like Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The new Winx Club remake has received criticism due to the whitewashing of their characters in particular. The original show featured several women of color main characters — including Latina, Asian and Black fairies. However, in Fate: The Winx Saga, Latina fairy Flora is replaced by her cousin Terra, who is played by white actress Eliot Salt, and formerly Chinese-based Musa is played by Singaporean-European actress Elisha Applebaum. While Applebaum is of Asian descent, Musa’s character was based on Chinese actress Lucy Liu, and the issue with Applebaum’s casting is that it furthers the idea that all Asian ethnicities are the same. Singaporean and Chinese cultures are different, and casting a woman of Singaporean descent to play a Chinese character erases the character’s original ethnicity.
Another issue some people took with Fate: The Winx Saga, though it is less serious than the series’ whitewashing, is the fact that it is yet another Netflix remake of a fun kids show that has been made dark and angsty. While watching the show, I did not have as much of an issue with this as I have with some other Netflix shows (like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina). I found Fate: The Winx Saga to still be lighthearted in many parts, and the scary or moody sections took themselves less seriously than in other programs. In fact, I found the plot to be interesting and fairly original. I won’t spoil anything, but season one set up its sure-to-be-greenlit season two very well, and the conflict was something I hadn’t seen before. Some of the characters were more morally gray than I expected, and I found that to be refreshing.
However, the acting and effects often left something to be desired. While none of the fairies have wings in this remake (it’s explained away in the first episode as something they evolved to not need — I suspect it was just so they didn’t have to animate wings constantly), in the final episode there are some special effects that fall very flat. Needless to say, I cringed a lot and laughed when I definitely wasn’t supposed to.
Fate: The Winx Saga is an unexpectedly fun show to watch. It’s brainless, easy to follow and is very on trend. However, it has a lot of issues, the most serious of which are its blatant whitewashing of characters and lackluster effects. While Eliot Salt, who plays Terra, has said that she hopes Flora will appear in season two, I’m hesitant to hold out too much hope. Netflix needs to do better with its remakes, and Fate: The Winx Saga is not the first step in that direction.
By Olivia Slack, Co-Editor in Chief