The Powerpuff Girls and the Disappointment of Nostalgia
The Powerpuff Girls are back! My favorite feminist fans of fisticuffs are being rebooted. Rejoice ye faithful, for it seems this era of late 90's and early 00's nostalgia will never end, at least for now. While I am not particularly upset about that (since I am still rooting for a Courage the Cowardly Dog reboot), this approach to t.v. and entertainment in general has some drawbacks. Namely, the soul of whatever property is getting rebooted vanishes, and along with it most of what made the show great. We see this in t.v. and movies all the time. The new Terminator was a bust, as is the new Teen Titans show, the Netflix Full House reboot, Total Recall with that Irish guy, and the new Planet of the Apes starring Commissioner Gordon.
"Batman gets seriously hairy in this one guys!"
I did a side by side viewing of the new Powerpuff Girls and the old, and while so much of Townsville remains the same, something is lacking. The show is no longer radical. The girls don't fight as much, they bicker over little things. Side characters abound and yet offer neither levity nor plot. My ultimate issue with the reboot is that Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles are still ultra-super powered crime fighters, but they adhere more strictly to a societally correct version of little girl-ness.
Case in point, in Season 4 of the original show, the Powerpuff Girls spent an entire episode learning about gender discrimination in the work place by besting grown superpowered men in a series of trails and then beating an unbeatable adversary when they are refused entry into the "League of Supermen". In the reboot, two of the Powerpuffs admonish their sister for being "irrationally angry" at gendered taunts thrown by a sexist villain named Man Boy.
The reboot is trying to have the same spark as the original series, but it just isn't clicking. The transgressive core of The Powerpuff Girls seems to have left with much of the original talent. America and our television landscape in 2016 is a far more socially liberal place than it was 1998, when the show first premiered, and back then The Powerpuff Girls had genderqueer characters like the villain Him. Instead of taking the current landscape as an opportunity to experiment with perceived gender roles, or maybe the addition of underrepresented characters like people of color or those with nontraditional genders, it feels like the show runners are backing down from making progress so that they can make money. Therein lies the disappointment of nostalgia, it is never about the love of the original version of something so much as it is about the love of the money that is brought in.