Hub, a cable channel for kids owned by Discovery and Hasbro, is hoping its new cartoon “SheZow” can turn the channel’s fortunes around.
Hub has struggled to gain viewers since its debut in 2010, but it’s betting a 12-year-old boy named “Guy” who transforms into a female superhero, complete with a purple skirt and cape, pink gloves and white go-go boots, will change that.
To become a female superhero, Guy uses his magic ring and says the words “You go girl!”
Amazingly, this is not an Onion story, but a plan to boost ratings for the Hub, a joint venture of Hasbro and Discovery Communications (Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, etc.) that mostly broadcasts cartoons. The channel has successes with My Little Pony and Transformers but needs a non-Hasbro hit.
Maybe it will be SheZow. The trailer suggests that the boy-girl dichotomy will be clothed in the basest of stereotypes, but surely the actual show will stand those on its head with a more subtle exploration of gender and identity.
Gender switching was the basis of Rumiko Takahashi’s hugely popular Ranma 1/2 manga and anime, about a boy who can change into a girl and back by dousing himself with water of different temperatures. And of course, manga where a youngster must disguise him or herself as the opposite sex is a whole genre to itself. (Link to scanlation site deleted even though no legit site has as good a resource.)
Whether SheZow will continue this tradition or just fall on its face, will soon be revealed. SheZow has been airing in Canada without any obvious adverse effects, and debuts on the Hub on June 1st.
Prediction: based on the number of weird images from deviantART I found while googling for an image of SheZow, it has that demographic nailed.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.