Fate: the Winx Saga is worse than you think

Just+look+at+the+casting.+It%27s+all+wrong+compared+to+the+animation.

Promotional advertisement of Fate courtesy of Netflix

Just look at the casting. It’s all wrong compared to the animation.

If you grew up in the early 2000s, you probably remember watching “The Winx Club” once or twice before. The sparkly, bright magical girls tv show is a staple of 2000’s cartoons that shaped many people’s childhood. Netflix released their live-action adaptation, titled “Fate: the Winx Saga”, last month. At first glance, you wouldn’t be able to see any resemblance to the original show at all. Though if you look a little closer, there’s still no resemblance at all, there’s really nothing but the character names connecting the two shows together. The adaptation isn’t bad at all though, don’t worry. You just have to look past the whitewashing, homophobia, bad writing, ugly costume design, terrible characterization, and countless other things this show somehow messed up. “Fate: the Winx Saga” is anything but a live-action reboot of the original animated series.
First, let’s talk about the poor casting choices. They got some characters correct, like Bloom, played by Abigail Cowen, Stella, played by Hannah van der Westhuysen, and Aisha, played by Precious Mustapha. These actors definitely portray their characters well, no doubt about that. Things start to get messy when we look into the casting of Flora and Musa, though. Flora, a character from the original show, is a Latina-coded nature fairy whose been replaced with a white character, an earth fairy called Terra. Terra is supposedly the cousin of Flora, but casting calls, audition tapes, and early cast reveals don’t say anything about Terra, just Flora. The show tried to justify their decision by saying they wanted to be more inclusive by creating Terra’s character, who happens to be plus-size. Still, there’s really no reason for making a character white and plus size, when there are most definitely plus-size Latina actresses. The next bad casting choice is Musa, an Asian character, who was cast as Elisha Applebaum, a non-Asian actress. On Elisha’s resume, it states that she’s Hispanic, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Middle Europe/Caucasian, and Slavic/Eastern European. There’s obviously no justification for this casting, it’s just blatant whitewashing. All of those things aside, every single actor in this show looks way, way too old to be playing their characters, who are supposed to be 16-17 in the show.
The costume, makeup, and hair departments definitely don’t help the actors portray their characters at all, and honestly, they just made the actors look older and worse than they look in real life. In the original Winx Club, the character all wore very obviously y2k outfits that matched the time period’s style perfectly. In the adaptation, the costuming isn’t anything reminiscent of the original show, neither does it reflect the style of modern-day teens. Really though, what could we expect when the series costume designer, Catherine Adair, is most known for costuming Desperate Housewives. It’s so sad to see the live-action adaption totally disregard the importance of fashion that was present and impactful in the animated series. The makeup was just as horrific. You can tell they were trying to copy Euphoria’s iconic makeup style but ended up putting the actresses in blocky, unblended, ugly eyeshadow and trying to save it by gluing on some cheap rhinestones. The costuming in this show reflected that of a short film with $40 of Kohl’s cash as a budget and most definitely not a Netflix-funded TV show. Overall, the costume design was a total mess and made the show hard to enjoy.
Even if you can look past the aesthetic parts of the show, the actual writing and characterization is just as bad. The show is filled with unrealistic performative feminism, outdated homophobia and biphobia, and unfunny fatphobia. In the first episode, Bloom misuses the word “mansplaining” twice, and both times it made me want to bash my head into a wall. In the same episode, her father tells her not to be sexist because she said “Lord of the Flies” when talking about her roommates instead of “Lady of the Flies.” Both of those lines really made me think the only people in the writer’s room were middle-aged men who have never talked to a woman once in their life. Something that really hurt me personally was the lowkey homophobic undertones in the show. The Winx Club was part of my own gay awakening as I’m sure other gay girls can relate to. The show had so much potential for beautiful sapphic relationships, and it was definitely possible for them to happen in a new reboot. Sadly, all the LQBTQ+ representation we got in Fate was when one of the male leads, Riven, did all he could to find out if another male lead, Dane, was gay. He talked about how Dane was strange and how he was definitely a little gay, but never brought up the idea of being bisexual, as if bi people don’t exist. There was no actual relationship between Dane and Riven with each other or any other men, the closest we got to that was Riven forcing Dane to drink alcohol and getting uncomfortably close to him with the intention of violating his personal space and boundaries. It gets worse when Dane’s only romance is seen with Terra but then is stopped when Dane and his friends make fun of her for her weight. Terra’s entire character was just for comedic relief and her entire personality was her weight. Fate promised representation for plus-size people and LGBTQ+ people but ended up doing the opposite.
“Fate: The Winx Saga” isn’t a good remake of the original source material, and it isn’t a good show outside of that either. It’s just another cash grab for Netflix, taking the basics of an old show and creating a dull, predictable teen drama out of it. There is hope for future seasons if the showrunners decide to listen to fans of the original show and the critics, but if the second season and ones after that are anything like the first, it will just continue to go downhill. If you really want to watch Fate, I would recommend looking at it as a completely different show unrelated to the cartoon. I would also recommend turning off your tv and going to do literally anything else. “Fate: the Winx Saga” had the potential to be just as impactful and iconic as the original source material, but failed to do so in every way possible.