‘Fate: The Winx Saga’ gives fairies a dark remodel
By Cara McCarthy
At 22 years old, even I couldn’t predict my excitement when I heard “Fate: The Winx Saga” was being released on Netflix this past January.
Based on the Nickelodeon-animated series “Winx Club,” “Fate: The Winx Saga” focuses on Bloom, a newly-discovered fire fairy, and her friends, Stella, Aisha, Terra, and Musa as she learns to control her magic.
The show stars Abigail Cowen as Bloom, Hannah van der Westhuysen as Stella, a light fairy, Precious Mustapha as Aisha, a water fairy, Eliot Salt as Terra, an Earth fairy, and Elisha Applebaum as Musa, a mind fairy.
While “Winx Club” is a more childlike and kid-friendly show based on friendship and magic, its live-action counterpart, “Fate: The Winx Saga” takes a much darker turn in its first season with a TV-14 rating.
The show starts off the same as the original. Sixteen-year-old Bloom has just discovered her powers after being adopted by a human family with no knowledge of her roots. She is soon enrolled in a magical boarding school, Alfea College, in the Otherworld, an entirely different dimension from Earth, known as the First World in the show.
Somehow, she still has cell service – don’t ask me how that works.
In the live-action version, the creators strayed from the original when it came to Bloom’s origins. Instead, Bloom was found to be a changeling, a fairy child who was swapped out with a human child at birth.
It is this information that sets the tone for the rest of the first season as her Headmistress, Farah Dowling, played by Eve Best, as well as her other teachers try to hide the truth from her about her real parents and she seeks to find the answers for herself.
However, finding answers is never that simple.
Additionally, Bloom is not the only newcomer to Alfea College. Beatrix, an air fairy played by Sadie Soverall, is one of the show’s first antagonists and she is trying to reveal the secrets Headmistress Dowling has been hiding for the past 16 years.
Aside from the threat Beatrix poses to Alfea, there is an even larger threat close beyond the magical barrier surrounding the school – the burned ones.
No one in the show has seen a burned one in 16 years. The last people to see them were Headmistress Dowling, Specialist Headmaster Silva, played by Robert James-Collier, and believed-to-be-deceased former Headmistress, Rosalind, played by Lesley Sharp.
Despite my overall appreciation for the live-action version and how it is much different and more mature than “Winx Club,” there are some aspects of the original show I wish they kept.
While for the most part, the creators did an incredible job in casting, especially Cowen as Bloom, van der Westhuysen as Stella, and Mustapha as Aisha, there were casting decisions that left me feeling disappointed with the show’s creators.
For starters, Applebaum being cast as Musa is something that does not sit right with me. While
Applebaum does an incredible job portraying the mind fairy, I wish the creators had cast a woman of East-Asian descent as she is portrayed in the original.
Additionally, the creators not only failed to accurately cast the original Earth fairy, they omitted her from the show altogether and replaced her with her cousin Terra, a plus-sized white woman. In the original, the earth fairy was Hispanic and named Flora.
Thankfully, both Cowen and Applebaum have responded to the controversy and they hope there is room for Flora to be incorporated into the second season and that she will be cast appropriately.
Another issue I take with the show is the lack of fairy wings.
Yes, I am a 22-year-old woman complaining about fairy wings.
In the version I watched as a child, all five of the main characters had giant, colorful, and beautiful wings. As of the last episode, only Bloom has earned her wings and she is the first fairy to have them in centuries.
I am interested to see how season two addresses the most talked about unanswered questions left in season one: Who are Bloom’s real parents? What happened to them? And why did they give her away?
Give us the fairy wings!