She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, the controversially received Netflix revival of the 1980s original She-Ra: Princess of Power series, has concluded its 52-episode run with the canonization of a popular lesbian fan ‘ship’ between Catra and Adora, better known as the series’ title protagonist, She-Ra.
The relationship was canonized on May 15th, when the final season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power premiered on Netflix.
After Adora sacrifices herself in an attempt to shut down the Heart of Etheria, an Etherian super weapon which channels massive amounts of energy through She-ra and the Sword of Protection, an emotional Catra confesses through tears her love for her childhood friend, an act which pulls Adora back from the brink of death.
In the final moments of the episode, the two share a tender moment, before being joined in celebration by the rest of the Rebellion:
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times following the release of the season, show runner Noelle Stevenson revealed that the romance between the two female leads was planned from the start, though it was not until production of the final season that Stevenson adamantly informed producers that this pairing had “to be the canonical textual arc of the final season.”
When asked “what was it like to actually cement Adora and Catra’s relationship” Stevenson responded, “My mind is blown by the journey that we’ve been on. I remember early on it had to be so secret. I kept it so close to my chest because I was so terrified of being told that we were never going to be allowed to do it.”
She continued, “To have that first season come out and have everybody immediately pick up on [their dynamic] and know right away something that I thought I was being very sneaky about — suddenly, it just opened up a version of the story that I hadn’t thought I was allowed to tell.”
“It did take me a while before I finally put my cards on the table. I said, “Look, this is what I’ve been building to this whole time. And I want this to be the canonical textual arc of the final season.” And it was not only supported, but embraced,” Stevenson explained.
She then added, “It feels so incredible to finally just be able to talk about it and show it and have it be undeniably central to this final season in a very, very textually romantic way.”
Offering her opinion that “for creators telling queer stories it’s not quite time yet for certain things,” Stevenson noted that queer characters “have to be immortal right now” because the “tragic gay romance” has been “the only norm for so long.”
“LAT: It does seem like this is one of the only ways you can do it. It would feel very different if the relationship was ambiguous and they didn’t end up together.
Stevenson: Even without any kind of executive mandates, or any worry at all of censorship, I think for creators telling queer stories it’s not quite time yet for certain things.
For example, having one or both of them actually die. I wanted to always make it feel like that was possible because I feel it would not be quite as suspenseful if you felt like they were immortal. But I really do feel right now, writing queer characters, they have to be immortal right now.
I can’t see another gay character die on TV for the moment. Maybe one day we can have a tragic gay romance again, but that has been, like, the only norm for so long. So for a little while, you do have to kind of accept more of a limited set of tools.
We have to be very, very decisive and very thoughtful about how we handle it. But I hope that the more people explore these themes, the broader and broader that that toolbox becomes until we really can explore it in every possible direction. Every possible shade of black and white and gray.”
Stevenson has not been secretive with her intention of using the show to promote LGBT+ representation.
Speaking with LGBT news outlet Queerty, Stevenson stated that “She-Ra have always been important to queer people, and kind of a queer property in general” and that “it was something very important to me about approaching this show.”
In a February 2019 episode of the She-Ra: Progressive of Power podcast, Stevenson recalled an anecdote in which she informed a studio executive that the prominent rainbow seen in the finale of the first season was about the “gay agenda.”
Commenting on the season finale to Digital Spy, the show runner explained that her goal with the scene, and the series in general, was “more than just normalizing [LGBT+ relationships], it’s an attempt to create a better world.”