I will understand if you haven’t watched Legend of Korra yet. It’s on during sleeping off that bottle of Prosecco time on Nickelodeon and to remind you it’s a children’s show the commercials are incredibly obnoxious (there’s one for Madagascar 3 involving a circus afro that will make you question your will to live).

It’s also one of the sharpest shows on televisions. Archetypes and expectations are regularly subverted. The show explores the concept of privilege and human rights and terrorism. And there is not one but two incredibly well handled and mature “romantic triangles.”

Meet Asami.

Asami, whippin' her hair back and forth.

When the first image of her was released and she was described as a romantic foil for the female lead and her primary male paramour. Fan debates ran rampant. Who was she? How slutty would she be? Why was her role as a femme fatale so incredibly obvious? Why do people immediately hate her simply for being a romantic foil and isn’t that just a little messed up? Guys get Team Edward and Team Jacob and girls get Korra and “that slutty skanky bitch ho?”

But then Asami actually appeared and was a fully developed character with hopes and desires outside of her vagina. More importantly she never lets the romance consume her character. Yes she’s a romantic foil, and yes she and the heroine share a rivalry but it isn’t the bulk of their relationship.

That’s hasn’t stopped people from hating on her for existing. Which is fairly common for any corner of a love triangle, but it has kind of halted a big chunk of the irrational hate. Not enough that she’ll ever be the Jacob to Korra’s Edward though.

But hey, at least she’s isn’t Pema.

Pema on the far right chatting with Lin and Tenzin.

This woman is part of the “mature” love triangle. She’s married to Tenzin who was once dating Lin Beifong and a few episodes back she revealed to Korra (the super bender of the title of the show) that she “stole” Tenzin away from Lin.

Cue the outrage and the bashing of Pema by fans. The word slut was thrown around like an insult and all sorts of unimaginative and vaguely misogynistic slurs were thrown her way. It doesn’t help that Lin may in fact be the very best character on the show. So it’s easy for people to hate on Pema while they cast their love net onto Lin (seriously she’s amazing and I could watch a whole show about her).

But you know who hasn’t done that? The show itself. Lin doesn’t hate Pema and Pema doesn’t hate Lin and there is no rivalry between them. The only person on the show that gets uncomfortable with it all is Tenzin, the dude who left one girl for another twenty years ago. How great is that?

So often on shows intended for children morality is portrayed in absolutes. There is good and there is evil and outside of a character specifically designed to be redeemed there can be no in between.

Not on Legend of Korra. Here the villains have a legitimate concern (they feel they have no voice in the government and they’re actually right), the femme fatales are anything but and two women can have dated the same man and both be incredibly interesting, complicated, and kickass characters.

The season ends this Saturday but you can catch up on the last ten episodes online here and then come back here and gush about the complexity of the show and the perfection that is Bolin, a “nice guy” sans the TM and the new poster boy for excellent dudes everyone should desire.

Bolin isn't afraid to show his tears.

  • Lentilite

    OMG I was freaking out at the title of this article, ’cause I have been letting my kids watch but I am _way_ behind myself, so I was panicking that the _show_ itself was being slut-shamey. Glad to know it’s just a segment of fans. Although it’s still disappointing, like when a large group of Hunger Games fans are racist and a larger group of MLP fans are ableist.

    • http://fempop.com/ Alex Cranz

      Absolutely agree!

  • Renjick

    I’m sorry but are you completely ignoring that Asami is actually liked by a majority of fans? And that her a-hole of a bf is actually being torn down?

    • http://fempop.com/ Alex Cranz

      I still run across pockets of hate for her, but you’re right, after she actually showed up the love for her was massive while Mako tanked like an unsinkable ship.

  • http://twitter.com/Ja_Babee Jabari

    Before Korra first came out I was like “Cool, the makers of Avatar are focusing on strong female characters.” The show progresses and I’m like “There’s a bunch of strong female characters!” In fact men are the ones who fuck everything up in the show, which I thought was hilarious. I thought it was pretty fantastic the Avatar series didn’t do the same ol’ thing with children cartoons. It’s about damn time there’s a bunch of cool girls for kids to look up to on their cartoons.

  • http://www.facebook.com/edupazos Eduardo A Pazos

    Yeah, I was disappointed by how misleading the title of this article is. It implies that the show is misogynist, and that is clearly not the thrust of your article. There is no show that reaches mainstream audiences that can control how viewers will react, and therefore the show can’t be blamed. Mad Men has a done a surprising job of appealing to feminists who see the show as a brilliant, candid, unvarnished portrayal of sexism as American cultural was going through a major shift, while also appealing to privileged white male asshole who think of Mad Men as a perfect look back at the good ole days. But I don’t think it’s fair to criticize Mad Men for its chauvinist fans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/terrell.veneable Terrell Veneable

    u hate her because she is liked and she is beatiful. but whats wrong with her personality. sure she has her flaws but eveyone does and in the end, Korra got her man anyway. why hate. all the stuff that happen between those four actually happens everyday. dont act like it doesnt.