Queer Kids’ Media: Legend of Korra

Screen

Every other week this term I’ll be discussing LGBT+ characters in children’s TV and film. 

This vacation I finally finished Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra (2012-2014), sequel series to the anime-inspired Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008). Both shows had wide appeal for their combination of emotionally-mature storylines with wonderfully childlike humour and fantasy. What caught the internet’s attention with Korra was the eventual canonisation of popular fan ship ‘Korrasami:’ a romantic relationship between the two main female characters, Korra and Asami. The series surprisingly ends with the two women holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes.

I was anticipating seeing how this romance developed, having watched just the first of four seasons, where Korra and Asami are linked romantically only via their shared interest in Mako, a male character. Unfortunately, despite great storylines, the writers seemed to grow no better at building chemistry – I found no spark between Korra and Mako, and except for a single blush when Asami compliments Korra’s hair, I saw no signs of anything beyond friendship until the series’ last seconds. More so than fearing censorship, the main cause of this seemed to be a lack of screen time showing the two bonding, even as platonic friends. More conversations between them could have resolved this, which seems to be being addressed in plans for a graphic novel continuation.

Nevertheless, Korrasami proved popular, and was groundbreaking in its portrayal of bi/pansexuality. The show ended with no indication that the women had realised they were ‘gay all along’ their previous relationships with Mako had simply not worked out, something which almost no television has previously allowed.