by Nancy Powell
When the She-Ra and the Princesses of Power season two trailer debuted at Wondercon, Netflix revealed that She-Ra season two would be shortened to seven episodes from the traditional 13. Naturally, this factoid generated a few questions. How would a shortened season affect story arcs? What would a shortened season mean for the actors involved? How would fans react?
Well, executive producer and showrunner Noelle Stevenson and the She-Ra season two cast have had time to ponder these very same questions. The conclusions they came to might surprise many.
In a roundtable at Wondercon ’19, Stevenson explained while all seasons are planned as 13-episode arcs, the idea behind the abbreviated She-Ra season two was a more steady output of episodes. This would reduce the long production lag time between seasons.
AJ Michalka, who voices Catra, agreed. She added that the increased frequency of episodes in She-Ra season two ultimately benefits viewers. “I think this is good for memory and intake because we’re all really used to seeing so much on these streaming platforms,” Michalka said. “It’s like, how do you stay engaged where a season is dropping off and where it begins?”
Lauren Ash, who voices Scorpia, likens the whole phenomena of binge-watching a 13-episode arc to a child consuming an entire bag of cookies. She added: “I remember when they dropped season one, and I can’t remember what time of the day it was… Let’s say 8 a.m., but by noon or so, people were saying, ‘I’ve binged it all.’ When people are consuming content at that speed, it’s tough because animation takes time. Being able to give more, quicker… I think it’s a benefit. Also, it feels like we’re mothers. Like, you can only have two cookies. You want to eat the whole thing, but you can’t. And then there’s nothing left. You gotta savor it.”
Before She-Ra, both Michalka and Ash were used to acting in traditional serials that aired and gained momentum from week-to-week. However, transitioning to a streaming platform has changed how viewers consume serials. People become invested in the moment; they want to see more than one episode at a time and are disappointed when they have to wait.
In response to the perception of giving viewers more frequent episodes in a shortened season, Karen Fukuhara, who voices Glimmer, said, “As a viewer, I appreciate that because I don’t have to do the week-long lag wish. It keeps me more intrigued for a longer period of time. When you have to wait for the next season for another year and a half, you forget about what happened on the last season.”
Fukuhara also said she believed that a shortened viewing season for She-Ra season two would strengthen fan commitment. “Something I realized is that for our show, it’s really nice for engagement,” she said. “I don’t know about this for all shows doing the same thing, but for the fans, I’ve really felt the sense of community around the show, and I think that it has a lot to do with how we’re viewing it.”
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power season two hits Netflix Friday, April 26.