Meet Guy Hamdon. He’s a 12-year-old wannabe-macho man whose catchphrase is “It’s a GUY thing.” But when he steals a ring meant for his sister and puts it on as a joke he gets the shock of his young life, as the ring is actually a magic ring that turns its wearer into SheZow, a “a legendary FEMALE superhero who possesses many super powers both physical and in the form of awesome gadgets” and whom Guy can subsequently turn into by saying “You go girl!”
SheZow, which airs in the U.S. on The Hub, has already gotten a lot of people talking about its refreshingly unique attitude to gender. But some of the comments haven’t been so positive.
Look out. Conservative bastion Brietbart News has found out about The Hub’s genderswapping kid’s show. And they aren’t pleased.
I’m not going to go that much into what Brietbart writer Ben Shapiro says specifically, but you can probably imagine it yourself. Basically, he says that it’s not appropriate for children. He doesn’t say why, but I didn’t expect him to, because there actually isn’t a good reason. But anyway. io9 spoke with show creator Obie Scott Wade about the backlash, which he says he didn’t expect, because the show “was really well-received by everybody” after it started airing in Australia in December. Oh, you sweet summer child. Wade responded to critics thusly:
“Just based on what they wrote, they’re reading a lot into the show that’s not there. I didn’t set out to make a show about any sort of political agenda, I just wanted to make a comedy. I wanted to make a cartoon that I would have liked as a kid. So I think people are just reading a lot into it.”
There’s no political agenda, sure—as far as the genderswapping element is concerned, Wade counts among his influences those always-so-controversially-liberal Bugs Bunny cartoons—but there is a lot of stuff about empathy and respecting others. How dare he?! Via io9:
“In [one] episode, [Guy] learns that one key to maintaining SheZow’s powers is ‘good grooming,’ and ‘his sister tries to give him a manicure, because that’s part of maintaining the power, and he doesn’t want to do it. And of course that has a drastic side-effect: part of his fingernail falls into some toxic goo and becomes an evil clone named SheZap,’ says Wade, who represents ‘his dark side.’
‘Yes, there are a lot of experiences he has that broaden him as a character,’ adds Wade, ‘but predominantly it’s about a laid-back kid who’s suddenly forced to save the world. It’s more about the responsibility that he has to take on, and less about gender… [We set out to] make a good animated superhero comedy that didn’t make a big deal out of the situation.”
He and his writer’s team—whom Wade notes is gender balanced—are sure to treat female respectfully, though, rather than as a joke. SheZow “shows a very positive role-model in SheZow,” Wade explains. “There’s been a number of SheZows over the decades, throughout his family. It’s something that’s passed down from generation to generation. And so women are very much honored in the show, and in his family.” And being SheZow in addition to Guy actually helps the main character become a better person. Per the official description, battling supervillains while sporting “an outrageous female superhero costume” helps him “on his own personal journey toward becoming one heck of a super man.”
Other things of note: When Guy turns into SheZow no physical element of him changes, like facial features softening or voice getting higher or anything like that. And if the show gets a second season Wade says he’d like to explore why the ring worked on Wade when it didn’t for any guy in the past. And this tidbit:
“So will it be harder for Guy to hide the truth about SheZow as he gets older? Wade says ‘time shifting is something I’d like to explore in the series. I’d like to jump ahead and see what happens in his future. So we’ll see.’”
Attention, all other studios/companies/creators: An animated kid’s show has just done something new, interesting, progressive, creative, and fun as relates to gender representation. Ball’s in your court.