The Legend of Korra Saved My Sanity
March 31, 2015 9:07 AM   Subscribe

"... one of the most startling things about this show is that fact that women in Legend of Korra are not required to be likeable."

The latest instalment of Liz Bourke's enjoyable Sleeps with Monsters series on Tor, which examines media portrayal of women in science fiction and fantasy, talks about female characters in The Legend of Korra.

Korra on Metafilter.

Korra on Tor.
posted by Ziggy500 (15 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
This post contains spoilers for The Legend of Korra and to a lesser degree, Avatar: The Last Airbender. Sorry, I forgot to put a spoiler warning in the post.
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:12 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yay, Sleeps With Monsters! I think Liz Bourke is awesome.

Also, Korra (the whole show) is awesome.
posted by suelac at 9:30 AM on March 31, 2015

Also, I'm astonished there are no comments on this over at Tor. Huh.
posted by suelac at 9:32 AM on March 31, 2015

It just went up less than 2 hours ago (Ziggy500 is fast!) and, while excellent, is a smaller community than you might think, especially in terms of active commenters vs. passive readers. The comments will come.

As a side note, Bourke's first post in the Sleeps with Monsters series has some valuable "feminism 101" type resources, something I see asked about fairly often around here.

Great post Ziggy! I really need to get around to watching Korra.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:38 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bourke doesn't get into it as clearly as I would like, but one of the things I LOVED about the final season of Korra is that basically all the most important characters in the plot are women. Korra, naturally; Kuvira, the Big Bad; Lin Beifong representing Republic City's institutions; Suyin Beifong representing the Earth Kingdom city of Zaofu; engineer/technocrat Asami Sato; surprise hero Zhu Li; and the cameo by Toph Beifong.

What's cool about this is how organically it develops over the course of the show: it's not a big deal and no one ever comments on it, but the women on the show are the ones driving the plot and making most of the big decisions. I really appreciated that.
posted by suelac at 10:15 AM on March 31, 2015 [8 favorites]

I ended up bailing on Korra after the first season after they wimped out on the sociopolitical issues they had set up, in a way that was supremely annoying to me. But I hear the 3rd and 4th seasons were a considerable improvement on that front, so maybe I'll catch up with them. Because I do like some of the things it did, including indeed, the fact that women didn't have to be nice.
posted by tavella at 10:54 AM on March 31, 2015

I love and adore the original series, but I think Korra beats it out when it comes to the portrayal of its female characters. I honestly find some of the male characters fall a little flat to me, while the female cast is rich, diverse, and have their own agency. I loved how the final season revolved so much around the women, and nobody made a big stinking deal about it.

The original series has some freaking fantastic characters, male and female, but save Katara, the female characters really don't get a chance to shine until the later seasons, which really gives Korra the edge here.
posted by PearlRose at 11:25 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

The original series has some freaking fantastic characters, male and female,

But none of them were older women, whereas Korra gives us four, of whom two are key players. (Five, if you count Pema, who does get something to do in the finale.) It was one of my complaints about the original series, that it had all these older men in positions of power/authority (Iroh, Piandao, Bumi), but the only older women were the weird twin sisters on Fire Island and the murderous bloodbender. None of them exactly role-models.
posted by suelac at 11:48 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Great post. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Fizz at 12:06 PM on March 31, 2015

Man, when I have time again I have got to give this show another try. If for no other reason than Lin Beifong, who is amazing.
posted by sciatrix at 5:20 PM on March 31, 2015

To anyone who stopped watching Korra during the first two seasons, yes, the third and fourth seasons are freaking amazing.

The only bad thing about Korra is that it's over and there's a possibility that we'll never see another Avatar cycle or how the rest of Korra's life turned out. You have no idea how much I want to be scanning the internet in a few years and read "Netflix has officially purchased the rights to The Legend of Korra from Nickelodeon, and plan to release Books Five and Six starting in 2018. Sources say the new series will continue the adventures of the Avatar Korra but be darker and more mature in nature.

Oh please, oh please, oh please...
posted by ELF Radio at 7:21 PM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yes! I just mainlined all of Avatar and Korra over the past month (after hearing the Song Exploder episode, actually) and I can't stop thinking about them.

I will second ELF Radio's claim that Korra S3 and S4 are a massive improvement.
posted by danb at 9:09 PM on March 31, 2015

I just started watching The Last Airbender with my eight-year-old daughter, inspired by the Fanfare re-watch and the A:TLA thread on the blue. I can't wait to come back to these links after we've gotten through both series...
posted by mbrubeck at 9:29 PM on March 31, 2015

Even if we see more Avatar, I doubt we'll see more Korra directly, on screen. Her story is over, like that of Aang's. There may be future adventures in books, as there were with Aang.

One of the great parts of Korra, I'd argue, was seeing those characters when they were older, and wiser and the ones people looked up to. Who they turned into and what affects their lives had had on others was fascinating. Toph, and her daughters, for example---she isn't just an archetypal wizard hermit. What's really more important is how her personality and relationship choices defined two cultures through the way she shaped her daughters.

A scifi Avatar is what I'd hope for next, a few generations later. Lots of possibilities there, alien spirit worlds, conflicts between tech and spirit, which we haven't seen yet really, etc....
posted by bonehead at 8:17 AM on April 1, 2015

I really, really wish Korra had been granted 24-26 episodes a season, like Avatar. Korra's short seasons is the ENTIRE cause of all its flaws, I believe. They are forced to run through the plot, at the expense of character development, humor, sometimes the plot itself, and all the other little tiny touches that made Avatar have, well, a soul. Just a few more episodes for padding and TLC would have made Korra another landmark series.

I do agree, however, that Korra handles its ladies quite well- and it has way more of them than I can remember in most things. It was almost subtle, too, as I hardly noticed till Metafilter pointed it out.

Season one was better than two, I felt they managed to tell 95% or so of the season 3 story they wanted, and season 4 (i'm at episode 6) feels sorta slow and meandering, despite it showing fairly unique character development and issues not usually raised in a TV show. However, everyone tells me the last half of season 4 will blow me away :D
posted by Jacen at 3:16 PM on April 1, 2015

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