Review: Princess Power (Netflix)

Princess Power is a new animated Netflix series for preschoolers based on the celebrity-endorsed picture book Princesses Wear Pants. I would like to state up front that I am definitely not the target audience for this series, but there has not been a new American animated princess series in at least three years, so we're doing this one. To be fair, one of my favorite shows of all time, Sofia the First has the same target age group, but I would argue that series was written with a wider breadth of audience in mind because it spent so much more time than it needed to on worldbuilding, music, and character development. Princess Power is a lot more obvious about its demographic, and that's fine, but as a result, it has little to offer for adults, parents, or older kids.


Princess Power focuses on four girls from the "fruitdoms," whose names all start with the same letter as their kingdom's fruit. Penny comes from the Pineapple Kingdom, Rita from the Raspberry Kingdom, Bea from the Blueberry Kingdom, and Kira from the Kiwi Kingdom. They get together to solve minor problems within their corresponding fruitdoms, but since this is a show for small children, there are no villains or major threats. The girls also don't have distinctive personalities. After watching a few episodes, it's possible to determine that Penny is a scientist, Rita likes arts and crafts, Bea is athletic, and Kira is the responsible one, but none of these traits are immediately apparent by listening to the girls in a casual conversation, unlike a show like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, where you can immediately figure out which character is talking after hearing a single line. The fruitdom princesses are all bubbly, smart, and energetic, and act consistently throughout the show.

The series is formatted similarly to shows like Doc McStuffins with two 11-minute segments in each episode with a music video near the middle that contains the same song and animation in each segment. It got so repetitive that I started skipping over the song after watching the first couple ofepisodes. I guess it's normal for preschool shows to have repetitive elements because kids like to repeat things, but I got spoiled by Sofia the First, which never repeated any animation sequence and had an original song in every episode. Each segment of Princess Power introduces a small problem in one of the fruitdoms like a princess wanting to throw a party or a lost or broken item that needs to be repaired. They summon their friends with a fruit-version of the Bat Signal get together to solve the problem after a brief music video. There was nothing particularly wrong with any of the storylines, but being a grown-up, none of them held my interest really made me think.

My favorite thing about this show by far is the animation. Even though it's based on a series about princesses wearing pants, the specific pants outfits that they wear are bright, colorful, and over-the-top with bows and sparkles, just the way I like it. I love how all their tiaras and outfits are themed to match their fruit and accented with ruffles and other embellishments that remind me of the clothes I wore as a child. The only thing that confused me throughout the show was why the Kiwi princesses always wore purple instead of green. Are purple kiwis a thing? The girls have fancier dresses that they wear on special occasions that are also very cute. The fruit aesthetic reminds me of Strawberry Shortcake, which may have been one of the inspirations for this series. The colorful confection-themed castles are reminiscent of "Hansel and Gretel."

Princess Power is a cute show for preschoolers but doesn't have much to offer anyone else. Though the 14 episodes on Netflix can be completed in a little over two hours, I can't recommend any episode in particular as being more worthwhile. They all feel like watching the same story over and over again, especially with the redundant songs and animation sequences. I think it's a harmless series for children that encourages friendship and teamwork and has some fantastic costume designs, but I have little interest in watching future episodes unless I have a child. Some ways I would improve it would be to give the princesses more distinctive personalities and harder problems to solve. Would you watch this show on your own or only as a parent? Let me know in the comments!

Comments

I watched all 14 episodes, and enjoyed them quite a bit. Though it is one of those things where a viewer would have to be more accustomed to preschool shows in order to get more of the experience out of them. It'd be like if someone were to look at a show like Alma's Way (which has a famous creator), and it would be judged differently between those who regularly watch PBS Kids shows and those who don't. The comment about Sofia The First is also pretty interesting mainly in how it's a show that was lightning in a bottle. No show within the same target audience (even if it's genuinely good) could truly replicate what made it good, not even Craig Gerber following up on it with Elena Of Avalor (which is also a good show). It does also remind of how while there are some preschool shows that have had royalty be a part of the cast, you don't really get a lot of preschool shows that are specifically about royalty (notably princesses). Most shows about royalty are usually aimed at older kids, so preschool shows about royalty rely more on what's established in other preschool shows. Something like the Nick Jr show Nella The Princess Knight conceptually sounds pretty good (a girl who's both a princess and a knight), and I do enjoy it, but it still relies more on the general episodic, slice of life storytelling format of most preschool shows.
Edward said…
Netflix is an American over-the-top content platform...
https://www.whats-on-netflix.com/coming-soon/whats-coming-to-netflix-in-august-2023-08-20/

So if you're curious, I just wanted to mention that new episodes return on August 28. There's no trailer for it, only this page. It seems to be a trend for Netflix preschool shows this year that are about to be finished given how the final episodes of Ridley Jones and Ada Twist Scientist didn't get trailers either.
So I watched season 2 of Princess Power, which came out on October 23, not August 28 as was once mentioned. While I think season 1 is pretty good, season 2 definitely amps things up. There's more continuity while still being episodic. The characters are as endearing as ever, and it's really funny to watch. Kira in particular gets to shine, probably helped by how she's the focus of the season's only special, The Princesses And The Frosty Fruitdom Fiasco. There's also some good world building starting with "I Dig Being A Princess" even if we never see these other fruitdoms. It's mainly people from the lemon, apple, and orange fruitdoms visiting the four main fruitdoms. While I think Netflix's advertising for the show could be better, being advertised on the Today show (which is a rarity given how streaming kids shows don't get attention like this) is definitely pretty cool. I don't think this is the last we've seen of the show. There's merchandise that's either being released or is already released. Plus, this Instagram post from Atomic Cartoons shows the characters of Susie Seedplanter and Headmistress Miranda, who haven't appeared on the show yet.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CoG2K57rcAZ/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

https://www.amazon.com/5-Minute-Princess-Power-Stories-Princesses/dp/1419769847/ref=asc_df_1419769847/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=647324355506&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4848886057940498955&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9003563&hvtargid=pla-1968788696857&psc=1&mcid=4910da4296d83390a8fdf17b682851ea

https://www.target.com/p/princess-kira-s-kiwi-jubilee-princess-power-chapter-book-1-by-netflix-sudipta-bardhan-quallen-paperback/-/A-88568002

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