The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

Netflix creates utterly soulless reboot of beloved childhood show


Avatar: The Last Airbender is a show that has affected me in more ways than I could ever describe. Between the loveable complex characters, the beautiful artwork and the lessons it purveys,, it has left such a profound impact on me. Which is why I was so dismayed when I heard about the live-action remake that Netflix put out this year. Remakes like these often have a reputation for being poorly written, cheaply made and for decimating the works they’re based on. And unfortunately, my worries were not in vain.

The worst and most noticeable flaw of the show is the writing. Every piece of dialogue in this show is the most awkward, clumsily-written expository sentence you have ever heard. It’s definitely the worst in the first episode. There are lines like:

“I like to play airball and eat banana cakes and goof off with my friends. That’s who I am, not someone who can stop the Fire Nation. Not someone who can stop a war.”

This one left me just speechless in the worst way. The amount of details that are flat-out told to the audience without any further demonstration was just mind-numbing. And hearing the lazy, crudely written lines is just pathetic considering the beautiful lessons and speeches that came from the 2005 show. 

I remember episodes like Season 2, episode 17. When Iroh reprimands Zuko for his carelessness while searching for the avatar, it feels like you’re actually watching a familial argument as he yells at him to take his life into his own hands. Moments like these are just completely absent from the Netflix adaptation. 

However, I will admit, a few parts of this show are great. The CGI and VFX look absolutely incredible—aside from some of the animal sidekicks who look just filthy. The scenes where the characters are bending look so natural and realistic, and I think you really see it in the water-bending specifically. Anytime Katara—played by Kiawentiio Tarbell—bends, it genuinely feels and looks like she’s moving the water. The droplets coming off of it, the reflections, even just the color make it look so real. These details, however, don’t save the show.

So many of the faults of this series come down to a misunderstanding of the source material. All of the characters that were once complex, human, understandable people have been flanderized to the point of no return. Azula is big, bad and evil, Sokka definitely attempts to be funny, Katara is mopey and submissive. It’s such a betrayal of not only the characters, but of the original writers of Avatar: The Last Airbender who clearly put their blood, sweat and tears into making characters that people could care about.

From the beginning, Sokka has plenty of flaws of his own, he’s sexist, ignorant, and over confident. Throughout the show however, we watch him grow and learn slowly. He becomes a more mature, understanding, capable man. Whereas on Netflix, he’s kind of just mild mannered and annoying. He feels like such a non-character.

I really did want to like this show. I had high hopes, then okay hopes, then reasonable hopes. But as we got closer to the release date, my faith dwindled, and watching the show only lessened whatever belief in it that I had left. 

Save yourself the time and boredom of watching this confusing, dully-lit mockery of a series. And please, PLEASE watch the 2005 Avatar: The Last Airbender instead. I can promise it is more worth your time and energy than a Netflix original will ever be.

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About the Contributor
Valentine Lindsey
Valentine Lindsey, Review Editor
Valentine Lindsey (he/him) is a junior who loves movies, fast food and Spider-Man. He likes writing for The Oracle because it gives him an outlet to express his very strong opinions on trivial matters.

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