SheZow Happened

SheZow, the latest show to premiere on kid’s channel The Hub, centers on Guy Hamdon, a teenage boy so self absorbed and macho-dude that his catchphrase is “it’s a Guy […]

SheZow, the latest show to premiere on kid’s channel The Hub, centers on Guy Hamdon, a teenage boy so self absorbed and macho-dude that his catchphrase is “it’s a Guy thing”.  Guy, his sister Kelly, and their parents moves into Guy’s dead Aunt Agnes’s house, and by chance the siblings find their aunt’s magic ring that allowed her to transform into the super girly superheroine SheZow!  Guy, of course, puts the ring on and becomes SheZow himself.  Now with the help of Kelly and the supercomputer Sheila, it’s up to him to protect Megadale from its various villains.  All in all, SheZow is a pretty cute idea for a kid’s superhero cartoon.

Also, it may destroy the youth of America.

What’s the problem?

On the one hand, it’s not all that surprising that the show would ruffle some more reactionary feathers.  It’s about a boy who kicks tail by cross-dressing as a mega girly girl – not something historically copacetic.  Ben Shapiro, columnist at Breitbart, immediately slammed SheZow, calling it the Hub’s “latest soon-to-be dud”. A harsh judgment, especially given that the show has been airing comfortably in Australia for six months now.  “Nothing says child-appropriate materials quite like ‘gender-bending underage superheroes’,” said Shapiro, and also criticized Hub CEO Margaret Loesch as a leftist on a high for greenlighting it (as you do).  It is the opinion of Shapiro – and more than a few twitter users – that SheZow’s genderbending and crossdressing premise makes it unsuitable and dangerous for children’s viewing.  It’s also accused of having a dangerous agenda, but what that agenda is isn’t known.  Maybe there’s a subliminal message telling young boys to dismantle the patriarchy and then get pedicures?

On the other hand, what?  No.  No.  What!?  No!

Any drug-addict leftist presumably-misandrist agenda is denied by Loesch and SheZow’s creator, Obie Scott Wade.  For her part, Loesch, though initially shocked, sees the show as a simple kid’s comedy:  “When I first heard the show, my reaction was ‘Are you out of your minds?’ then I looked at it and I thought, ‘This is just funny.’”  Wade claimed he “set out to create a comedy” in SheZow, not fracture the delicate psyches of children.  Wade explained in an interview that “[t]he main focus is on [Guy learning] responsibility and less on gender.”  A good dodge, but with all due respect, I am going to have to call BS on that.

Gender is at the heart of SheZow – the whole point is to show that it’s not just okay to be super girly and feminine, but powerful.  Guy insists he can’t be her because SheZow is girly, and therefore gross and dumb, while he as a macho guy is anything but girly/gross and dumb.  He even refuses to help with moving into the new house because moving in is somehow “girly.”  “Girly” is just his catch-all insult for anything he doesn’t like, because for him and for a lot of boys in SheZow’s target demographic, things that girls like and do and are are dumb and bad.  Being girly, and certainly being as girly as SheZow, is the worst thing that could happen to Guy.  Hell, he even discovers one of his super powers, a sonic shriek, because screaming in panic is his initial reaction to being in pink.

Sure, Guy is going to learn to be responsible because of his duties as SheZow.  But he and the kids who watch the show are also going to learn something else: that being girly is not just okay, but that it can be powerful and just as deserving of respect.  That’s the conceit behind magical girl anime: “girl power” is literalized by taking the stereotypical trappings of femininity (princesses, skirts, ruffles, sparkles, wands, et cetera) and using them as symbols of power and ability.  SheZow’s arsenal is extremely girly: pink leopard print armor, a boomerang brush, a sonic scream, a lipstick lightsaber, a bright pink car/plane/submarine, and women’s intuition/She-S-P that functions as a spidey sense.  It’s that same literalized girl power, but now a boy gets to wield it.  And because of that, now young boys can see someone like them learn and show that girliness and girls aren’t an insult or a punchline, but just as powerful and due respect as boys.

But how is the show?

It’s pretty fun, and the first episode is a pretty good start!  The characters and their relationships are established very well, particularly for its twelve-minute runtime.  Guy is a fun protagonist, and the kind of guy to embrace his role as an unwilling superheroine just as quick as he sees his cool new car.  Kelly, Guy’s more sensible older sister and the world’s biggest SheZow fangirl, makes fun of her brother just as much as she guides him, but in a loving sibling way.  A good family conflict is set up between Guy and his police officer father, who hates SheZow for taking all the crimefighting credit away from law enforcement.  Maz, Guy’s best friend, is just kind of there for the first episode, but the unfairly catchy theme song promises more involvement from him… somehow, the lyrics are really hard to understand.  It’s bright, it’s flashy, and it’s pretty fun.  If I were a kid ages two to eleven, I would probably love it.

The final word

If you’re looking for a cute, fun new show with a progressive message to show a kid you know, or even watch yourself, SheZow is ready and waiting.  The only downside: the puns.  If you like puns, then disregard this warning, but if not there are so many “she” punsSo many.

SheZow airs Saturdays at 12:30pm ET and 9:30pm PT on The Hub.

Sources:

Hall, Diana: Gender-bending cartoon ‘SheZow’ causing controversey

Shapiro, Ben: Children’s Network Launches Transsexual Superhero Show