Firstly, one must applaud the creators of the Avatar franchise; they have spent close to a decade building a universe that celebrated the power of the individual's spirit. The Avatar world has often paralleled our own and took complex themes such as, love, betrayal, greed, genocide, spirituality and friendship, and made it palatable for younger viewers but still bold enough for everyone to enjoy.
The series evolved quickly over the last two years with the advent of the Legend of Korra. Here was an Avatar that was quite possibly one of the most powerful benders we have ever seen, yet despite that, one of the most vulnerable ones. I must admit, having totally loved Aang and everything he stood for, (his conflict with killing and overcoming that was something I keep very close to my heart to this day), Korra was a hard pill to swallow. She was arrogant and boastful, and made so many mistakes sometimes you wanted to reach into the screen and shake some sense into her.
This being said, the writers took the last four books to great places and presented heroes, anti-heroes and villains with remarkable complexity. We saw the birth of the Avatar Spirit, the importance of respecting the wilds of the spirit world and we lost all of the previous lives of the Avatars that we grew to love such as Roku, Kyoshi and Aang. I don't know about other fans, but not having the safety net of the Avatar past lives as an anchor really unnerved me, and this unease was translated masterfully into Korra's vulnerability as she evolved.
Book 3 left us with a bitter taste of poison, and great insecurity as we had no idea if, after so much trauma, the Avatar and her spirit Raava would ever recover. Answering those questions in book Book 4 was just a stroke of genius - and we got to see a robust and strategic female villain that made the big nasty Zaheer from Book 3 even go "Fuck that, she needs to be stopped", and the writers tied up all the supporting cast story lines nice and tidy.
We got Action, Spirits, Redemption, TOPH and some animated battle scenes that made Naruto look like Power Rangers. Korra really matured as well, she was more than likely one of the most spiritually inept Avatars, and lets face it she bended like a bull in a china shop, but her post traumatic stress and Kuvira's cunning and ruthlessness forced her to pull her shit together, quickly! In retrospect, her being so flawed and struggling to find her own inner balance is what really made her such a force of change in the Avatar World. In truth, in her short life she quite possibly impacted the world the most since the first Avatar Wan, and in the end it was her strength of character, not strength of bending and the support of her friends which allowed her to do so.
The writers developed a hero that's a fantastic role model to kids, especially ones who never really fit into any mold but had to learn how to accept who and what they are and just face live and the struggles that come with it.
In close to 10 years the Avatar produced timeless storytelling that creates a legacy of learning for young people everywhere, full of values and life lessons buried in beautiful entertainment. However, I think what they accomplished in the last 5 mins of TV will forever change the landscape of children's television.
20 years from now I will be able to share these 7 seasons of programming with my grandkids and know that it ushered in new feelings and ideas portending to how mainstream media treats with non-traditional love and relationships, especially on kids networks.
While many people have condemned the decision of the producers to not only (and age appropriately) show the beginnings of an LGBT relationship between two female lead characters, I think most of the world and their fans will now be talking about how revolutionary it really was.
Retracing the 4 books of Korra, now I can pin point exactly when the producers did what they did. First there was a love triangle between Korra, Mako and Asami - one that left both women jilted and yet still becoming friends. Then as the Avatar experienced trauma after trauma in her story development, Asami became not only her friend, but the only person she was comfortable to be vulnerable around. Heck it was priceless when Mako felt anger that over the 3 year leap gap between books, Korra only communicated with Asami.
If you re-watch the series you see a beautiful, healthy and powerful love develop between the two young women with an ending that solidified it with that final scene. Also with the producers saying it was in fact cannon.
What is upsetting though is the same persons who condemn it and call it impure, were happy to sit and watch a murder suicide in Season 1, attempted murder in Season 2, Murder, Kidnapping, Poisoning and a woman's head exploding in Season 3 and have absolutely no problems with it.
Be that as it may, Korrasmi has created a discussion point that will be a small step for LGBT and Queer kids to finally have someone mainstream, beautiful and strong to identify with on television. Not only that, its emphasizing that no matter how strong or how powerful you are, when you fall friendships and love will get you through anything. Another thing that made this truly powerful, Asami was just a regular girl - true she was a genius, but she was not a bender and yet still she found an equal in the Avatar.
Bravo to the story tellers of Avatar for creating a legacy, and to Nickelodeon for having the balls to support them.
I hope more TV shows will follow the lead and develop wholesome stories that showcase different aspects of society and alternative Prince Charming's.