An Explainer About The Whitewashing Controversy In Netflix's "Fate: The Winx Saga"
The original Winx Club cherished diversity, while this reboot seems to cast it aside.
By now, I'm sure you've heard of Fate: The Winx Saga, Netflix's live-action adaptation of the Italian-American kids' cartoon Winx Club.
It's become hugely popular on the streaming platform, gaining a number of dedicated fans who are already talking about theories for Season 2 (which is yet to be confirmed).
But, for those who watched Winx Club growing up, the adaptation has fallen flat for a number of reasons, with the main one being the whitewashing of main characters.
For those not up to speed, let me explain. The original cartoon had a core group of diverse characters made up of Bloom, Stella, Flora, Tecna, Musa and Aisha (or Layla, depending on which version of Winx Club you watched growing up).
This was deliberately done by creator Iginio Straffi, so that "teenagers from all over the world [could] identify themselves with the characters they think they are most like".
In another interview, Straffi also noted that he was inspired by celebrities when designing some of Winx members, like Jennifer Lopez for Flora, Lucy Liu for Musa and Beyoncé for Aisha.
But, in Fate: The Winx Saga, the casting of some of these characters doesn't line up with Winx Club, which has since led to backlash from fans.
For example, Musa, who is depicted as East Asian in the cartoon, is played by Elisha Applebaum.
While Flora, who is a Latinx character, doesn't make a single appearance during Fate: The Winx Saga. Instead, the series introduces us to Terra, Flora's cousin, who is played by Eliot Salt.
To say that fans of Winx Club are disappointed is an understatement. This could have been such an easy win for representation, especially for younger fans watching, but instead a different choice was made.
Personally, as someone that watched Winx Club growing up, the decision to whitewash these characters hurts. It's not only a major blow for representation, but in the ongoing struggle that POCs have to face in learning to love who they are — and by extension, their culture.
Since its release date, some of the Netflix actors have addressed the casting criticism. "It's really sad to see that fans were upset with the casting," Elisha said in an interview with Digital Spy. "I wasn't involved in the casting but I hope that what they've seen and how I've portrayed Musa was to their liking."
Precious Mustapha, who plays Aisha, also said: "The industry is getting to a point where we're starting to see more diversity on screen, but it's obviously not enough and there's still more work to be done. It's really nice to be on a show where there is a lot of diversity. There could be more and hopefully if we get a season two there will be a lot of that."
Meanwhile, Abigail Cowen, aka Bloom, told The Wrap that if the show is lucky enough to get a second season, she hopes that these concerns are something that can be addressed.
While the damage has already been done with Fate: The Winx Saga, hopefully this is yet another signal to the writers and all of Hollywood that representation and diversity in all its forms is so important and shouldn't be cast aside so easily.
Also, what are your thoughts on Fate: The Winx Saga? I would love to know, so leave them in the comments.