Before we were obsessed with reality TV shows like Bling Empire or intriguing Netflix hits like Emily In Paris or Bridgerton, our tween and early teen selves were focused on animated series — they give the same exciting feeling. We’re talking stylish outfits, an aspirational yet relatable narrative, and of course, empowered females as leads. There’s Totally Spies, W.I.T.C.H., and of course, Winx Club.
Speaking of the last one, Winx Club received a live-action adaptation this year in the form of Fate: The Winx Saga. This follows the popularity of ‘adultified’ animated classics like CW’s Riverdale (inspired by Archie Comics) and Netflix’s Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina (inspired by Sabrina, The Teenage Witch).
While it sparked enough interest among viewers (it’s currently trending on Netflix Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia) the six-episode first season ended up raising a lot of questions and drawing criticism based on the huge changes they made from the original. We weigh in on the differences between Fate: The Winx Saga and Winx Club below.
The good: Fate effectively takes a dark turn
Much like the other live-action adaptations mentioned earlier, Fate: The Winx Saga also took a page from the ‘let’s make it darker’ book in what we think is an attempt to capture the attention of older audiences. It makes sense, considering that the first audience of the animated series is more or less in their young adult stage now.
However, instead of banking on angst or gore to sell the idea of teenagers going to magic school, they focused more on the lore and the mystery of this otherworldly adventure. This worked flawlessly for the series and gave it a mature feel without removing the whimsicality of the original version.
The tolerable: Supporting characters are either replaced or have different backgrounds
Following the plot changes to make Fate more mature than its source material, some of the supporting characters were also either replaced or rewritten.
For one, Trix witches — who are inarguably the most stylish recurring villains in the animated series — seemed to have inspired Beatrix and Rosalind’s characters on the show. Bloom, Sky, and the rest of the characters’ backstories are also a lot more grounded in Fate than in Winx Club, and elements of royalty for most characters have been removed.
We’re glad these changes were made to make the plot less convoluted. After all, having so many backstories for so many main characters can get confusing in the six-episode timeframe. So even if we miss some of our other faves from the original series, this revision is one we can get behind.
The ‘can be improved’: the fashion is a bit… meh
Before we dive into the deep stuff, we just have to ask: what happened to the fashion? Winx Club is one of the most stylish animated series of our youth. We’re not saying Fate characters were styled poorly. We also get that their looks have to be realistic. However, it seems like they were focused just on Bloom’s ensembles and the rest were stuck with sweaters and bomber jackets for the rest of the series. We’re calling for fashion justice in season two!
The bad: Flora is ‘replaced’ and Musa is ‘whitewashed’
Character changes are forgivable if they’re meant to enrich the plot. However, the major changes to some Winx Club characters caused dismay among fans. And no, it’s not just a case of fans being petty about the choices, it’s about removing and replacing characters of colour.
For one, nature fairy Flora, who is Latina in the original series, was nowhere to be found in the Fate cast. She was only mentioned briefly as the cousin of the new character, Terra, played by English actress Eliot Salt.
On the other hand, music fairy Musa, who is Chinese-American in the animated series, was played by English actress Elisha Applebaum.
Sure, we have Precious Mustapha as Aisha on the show. But it feels like another case of tokenism. Winx Club was celebrated for being ahead of its time, championing diverse characters in an animated series before the demand for inclusivity was as prevalent as it is now. So it’s understandable that there is frustration surrounding this glaring difference between the Netflix series and its original source material.
Neither the actresses playing the said characters nor the writers of the Netflix adaptation have commented on the matter as of writing. But we hope that, should the show be renewed for a second season, the writers and producers would choose to correct these lapses. After all, what good is a promising plot if you can’t do right by your character representation?
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