Reviewing Netflix’s Spirit: Riding Free

I shouldn’t be offended by this show, because it’s something for parents to keep their horse-crazy little girls occupied with, but this show OFFENDS me on a bitch-eating-crackers level. Probably because I can see so easily how it could be so much better.

Props to the Dreamworks animators, tho, ’cause while they have some cheap-ass animation to work with, they take the trouble to animate the horses to move and act like they’re HORSES, and not throw in some dog mannerisms for shits and giggles (LOOKING AT YOU, TANGLED).

By now I’ve learned from RWBY and (to some extent) Knights of Sidonia that I’ll totally watch fairly shitty animation if it comes with an interesting story. That’s where Spirit is losing me. It’s a pretty by-the-numbers kids’ show, but on the more boring end because they just retread the old themes of trying hard, being responsible, etc, etc.

I mean, that’s barely an excuse anymore because kids’ shows are so much better nowadays. I enjoyed My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic even after they could have so easily jumped the shark with making Twilight an alicorn princess. I will even watch Power Rangers if it’s the good seasons where they actually tried with characterization.

But I’m not convinced this show is trying very hard. There are hints, but it’s mostly missed opportunity.

Also I can’t take any moralizing at how it takes a lot of work to learn to ride a horse when our main character is riding a goddamn wild, untrained, intact stud BAREBACK. I realize that Main Character Syndrome magically makes all things possible, but IT’S A LITTLE DISTRACTING.

I mean, the horses are animated with human eyes and goddamn eyebrows, but I don’t care about that because the animators use that to make the horses expressive while nonverbal. Can we get the writerly version of that, please?

For example, I am having a hard time trying to get over that this show is set during cowboy times, which were Victorian times, so girls and minorities did not get to act like that. And girls would not be wearing pants.

I think this is a very basic level of failure of setting that could be fixed so easily. In fact, a lot of limitations in this series could be opened up and this show improved by about 1,000% if they set this in the Firefly universe. A western in spaaaaaaaace!

See how much better that could be? Main Character girl could be from the central planets moving to the outer colonies, and Spirit is an experimental genetically modified and/or computer-programmed horse gone wrong but latches onto our Special (it’s a known trope, it should sell easy), so I’m less distracted by the fact that untrained horses don’t work like what this show portrays.

But maybe it wouldn’t make a difference if they couldn’t be arsed to get creative and take some chances, but it would be so much easier if you could throw in spaceships and land speeders and laser guns.

Amiright or AMIRIGHT??!?

firefly meme


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