Film & TV

Hey Netflix, Whom Is This For?

Fate: The Winx Saga (2021) Photo credits to Netflix and The Guardian

Words by Alex Daud Briggs

So, Netflix has made another Netflix live action adaptation. This time of the Italian magical girl series Winx Club, known for its light-hearted adventure plot of six fairies fighting the forces of evil all the while talking about fashion, boys and friendship. 

But with Fate: The Winx Saga, Netflix has decided they’d like to go after more ‘mature’ demographics and have decided to make their new show a Riverdale-style overly dark and angst-filled teen drama that removes one of the main characters and whitewashes two others. It probably doesn’t help that the new trailer is set to an EDM number and shows little sign of the brightly coloured modern fantasy/sci-fi setting of the series in favour of a grimy discount Hogwarts. Needless to say, the fans of the original cartoon are not happy.

I only have a limited knowledge of Winx Club besides the few episodes I watched on Cartoon Network back in the day, but it does present a bigger issue with these Netflix remakes. We are seeing more of these ‘dark’ adaptations of older traditionally light works like Riverdale, Sabrina and arguably even their anime adaptations like Death Note which was also framed with teenage angst. Who is this for and why is it like this?

As strange as it seems, there is some logic behind the changes. The original Winx Club fans are older teens to young adults now, so the producers can capitalize on their nostalgia while appealing to their more mature tastes by bringing back the old show in a more adult fashion. However, this is just a jumping off point to bring in new fans. There is a significant number of people aware of Winx Club as a brand who may be more intrigued to watch a new version of something they’ve heard about but are ‘too adult’ to watch at their age, even if they’ve never seen the original. Netflix may lose some old fans but the marquee value of the IP could bring in some mass appeal. The formula has proven to work with Riverdale. The show may have its detractors, but it remains popular and has found a new fanbase, many of whom have probably never read an Archie comic.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For the most part, it’s seen as good when a franchise attempts to change things up, however it is also true that certain shows lend themselves more to certain tonal shifts than others. Batman and other superheroes can easily go from dark and gritty to 60s cheese without much issue but Netflix’s recent trend of taking shows that centred around being family comedies and subverting them into edgy dramas is harder to justify. Winx Club is remembered for being a sparkly fantasy action series about fairies; the new trailer doesn’t even show them with their iconic wings. You have to wonder what’s the point of even calling it Winx. Sure, people know the name but if everything people associate with the name is not here, is there even a point in using it? 

Fate: The Winx Saga will be premiering on Netflix on January 22 and for all we know it may turn out to be a well written series that makes changes but is still respectful to the source material, but it doesn’t look good. In attempting to chase a more serious audience, it often feels like the producers forget why fans were drawn to the property. Whether that’ll work out for them is yet to be seen.

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