Some reasons why Legend of Korra is a bad show
- The central conflict creates a situation where the heroes are actually on the side of oppression, counter-revolution, and perpetuating inequality. At no point is the ideological justification for opposing Amon revealed by any character, it is simply taken for granted that the status quo ought to be maintained.
- Instead of taking advantage of the inherent dramatic potential of the protagonists being on the wrong side - starting by acknowleding, even for a second, that the above just might be true - Amon and the Equalists are just lazily drowned-out by ominous music. That the show is lacking in any sort of self-awareness on this front is pretty much unforgivable.
- It portrays events that escalate the central conflict in wildly inappropriate ways. Until the latest episode, the Equalists exclusively target Benders who abuse their power and this is seen as extreme. The Benders/police conduct searches and seizures without evidence, launch paramilitary raids on people just learning how to defend themselves and this is seen as business as usual.
- The show draws arbitrary standards as to what constitutes abuse of authority with Tarrlok seemingly going too far, despite his actions being much closer to things Korra, Tenzin, and Lin had already been doing than the characters in the show, and soundtrack, would lead you to believe.
- Arbitrary justifications, ad-hoc powers of authority, vague standards of evidence… and we’re not supposed to buy it when Amon says the Benders are oppressive? Seriously, bring on the damn revolution. Where can I sign up to help throw these clowns out of power?
- It’s too late to fix any of the above.
- Tonally, LoK tries to do too much and it is a mess. For example the kids’ show antics of Meelo are very unsettling - in the sense that they kill the mood and destroy tension - when they are interrupting scenes that are, in context, incredibly dark. If this problem sounds familiar, that’s because it’s something George Lucas had issues with in the Star Wars prequels. You know, that other follow-up to a beloved IP that was a disaster of trying to appeal to too many people at once.
- Legend of Korra has the dubious “honor” of being one of the few examples in media where the protagonist is a female action hero yet is full of episodes that routinely fail the Bechdel test.
- Speaking of Korra, her character is all over the place. Very driven and badass when she needs to be, totally incompetent and out of her depth when the plot demands it, with motivations for doing things that can only be described as “that’s what was next in the script.”
- On a related note, want to get frustrated? Go watch an early episode and play the “I wonder what happened to that subplot/characterization” game.
- Pema’s relationship advice.
- It feels like a stretch placing Mako in the section of this post that seems to be talking about characters, since he is - as a friend aptly described - more like “a scarf with a haircut” than a believable person. But damn is this guy a waste of screentime in every way imaginable. If he in fact does exist simply to frustrate the audience and reduce everyone’s sympathy for himself and Korra, then mission accomplished.
- Seriously, what are they doing with Mako? He is a scene-killer that torpedoes characterization among his comrades and for what? Because he can’t figure out who he wants to stick his dick in and keeps choosing “all of the above?” Not to mention this love-triangle has the drama and sophistication of a Saturday morning cartoon to begin with. Oh, right.
- This excellent post on the love-triangle and how it’s ruining things.
Some reasons why Legend of Korra is a good show:
- The animation and art style is really fantastic.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender was great.
- The animals in the Avatar universe continue to be cute.
- Some characters make the most of their criminally-limited screentime (e.g. Bolin).
Edit: This post seems to be very popular on Google, so I felt like I should add a note that the bulk of this post was written sometime before the end of the first season. The last episode, by itself, deserves an entirely new rant…
And I thought about updating this after the finale with things like the incredibly awful reset button ending, and Tarrlok’s 11th hour Exposition Bending, and the complete erasure of the Equalists’ ideology…
…but you know what? It’s not worth the effort. Enough bad writing is enough.