Smackdown: The OG Winx Club vs Fate: The Winx Saga
We talked to the new cast of Winx fairies themselves!
(SPOT.ph) If there’s one thing you don’t mess with, its people’s favorite childhood shows. But Netflix has gone rogue yet again and decided to dish out a live-action remake of Winx Club, the cartoon about a band of magical fairies that aired on Nickelodeon in the early aughts. Yup, we’re talking about the highly divisive Fate: The Winx Saga. The remake promptly shot to the number-one spot on Netflix’s Top 10 list in the Philippines so it is clear people are watching the show, but does it live up to its predecessor? Let’s discuss.
We talked to the new band of Winx fairies themselves to get the details: Abigail Cowen (Bloom), Hannah van der Westhuysen (Stella), Precious Mustapha (Aisha), Eliot Salt (Terra), and Elisha Applebaum (Musa). The Fate: The Winx Saga series’ main cast is full of up-and-coming faces and, if you come out of watching the buzzy new series hating it, at least you’ll know enough to remember their names! If you’re clinging on to the past, Winx-wise, we present a round-by-round comparison of the two shows below.
Does the New Fate: The Winx Saga Live Up to the OG Winx Club Cartoon?
Round One: Fashion
Look, when you were first exposed to the ridiculously lithe fairies of Alfea via the Italy-produced Nickelodeon cartoons, most of you were probably kids—so yes, they piled on the glitter and the colors and the crop tops and miniskirts and those spectacular wings on Bloom and her friends. And we loved every bit of it. Still do, really. The outfits were undeniably a huge part of the cartoons.
But as writer Brian Young pointed out in an interview with The Guardian: “Look, again, I’m a massive manga anime fan, and a fan of the cartoon itself, but, of course, those are cartoons,” he pointed out. “Nobody looks like that. It was the most important thing to me that every kid can feel like they see themselves in it … Real girls, real people.” Which, cry as we might, meant the Winx club had to let go of their massive wardrobe for the live-action remake and instead opted for clothes normal human beings would actually wear.
Winner: Winx Club
- The kid’s cartoons definitely went wild with the outfits for the animated characters (probably because they could) so they do have an upper hand here.
- TBH, we’re doing this for the nostalgia. The cartoon told us it was more than okay to go full-girly, it was downright powerful to do so.
Round Two: Powers
So the OG cartoons had special powers for each of the fairies: Bloom was the Fairy of the Dragon Flame, Stella the Fairy of the Shining Sun, Flora the Fairy of Nature (who isn’t in the first season of the remake but more on that later), Musa the Fairy of Music, and Tecna (who isn’t in the remake either). Aisha, the Fairy of Waves comes in later on in the cartoon when the founding members are established, but is no less of an epic character.
And while the animation had a bit of an advantage for this round, the remake proved that nothing is impossible with VFX and practical effects. “There is real fire in some in some scenes,” shares Cowen in a roundtable interview with SPOT.ph.” That part was definitely scary for me,” she adds laughing. For the most part though, the girls would have to deal with manifesting all that energy while on-set during pivotal moments for their characters. “It takes a lot of imagination and really trying to stay in the moment,” says Cowen. For some scenes, rods were placed on her arms all the way to her hands in order for light to shine on her face at the right moment; just one of the many tricks their team had to make the fairies’ powers real. “It's a lot of fun, especially being able to pretend you have superpowers.”
As for Musa, who was originally the fairy of music, she gets an entirely new twist to her element, although she still does depend a lot on music to help keep her powers in control. Fate’s Musa becomes an empath, a change that Applebaum took seriously. “She's got a completely new power,” says the actor in the interview. “So a lot of my research was done by meeting someone I knew who had headphones, who would wear them all the time, and trying to understand why they wear them and why Musa would do the same.
Winner: A tie!
- This round is a little tricky especially since we’re basically talking about two different sets of powers with different effects on their own narratives—so we’re going to play safe and call it a tie. Hey, at least we’re self-aware, right?
Round Three: Story and Characters
This is where it gets really complicated (especially since the remake has only one season out while the OG cartoon ran for eight very popular ones). The original cartoons saw Bloom and her friends battle many villains throughout the seasons, even returning to Earth to find the last fairy there (Rory, the Fairy of Animals). There were major changes to the remake of course, not just in terms of narrative, but the little plot points—with the missing Tecna front and center, of course.
Fate: The Winx Saga doesn’t do the whole fairies-are-girls and specialists-are-boys thing; as Young said in The Guardian interview, “We’re in the 21st century.” Plus, as established in the first episode, it may take a while before we see the whole gang do those transformations we lived for in the cartoons—so far we’ve only seen Bloom’s wings but fingers crossed the rest get their own pairs soon.
Then there’s also the whole shake-up of an entirely new narrative: the mystery of the burned ones—the remake’s new monsters—and the true villains behind them. Is anyone still confused about who the bad guys are and what they want? Because we definitely are. And at the core of this new adventure in Solaria, there is the friendship of the Winx Club still very much alive.
“The reality of the relationships and being a teenager and all of those very human aspects in this magical fairy world, that really drew me in,” Westhuysen tells SPOT.ph. “I had such a rough time when I was that age, and from having that experience, I started to imagine “Oh what if I had to learn how to control light or other elements at the same time. I mean, that’s a lot.”
Winner: Fate: The Winx Saga
- The remake is undeniably very current.
- Much darker, too!
- Season 1 definitely has us hopeful for more of this grown-up take on the Winx Club.
Round Four: Impact
Okay, so there’s no denying that Winx Club had a huge cultural impact—just the fact that the remake has been so divisive definitely shows how attached people are to the OG. With eight seasons, spin-offs, and lots of merch, the original Winx Club was a huge part of people’s childhoods. Mustapha herself grew up watching the cartoons, all thanks to her two younger sisters, and the day she got the call about getting cast was a big one. “I just remember screaming, and because I've been speaking about it for so long in the house, everyone knew what it was. So, we were all just screaming in the house,” she shares, laughing.
“[Aisha] was the only representation of me in the cartoons,” adds Mustapha. The new Winx gang were very well aware of how difficult it is to play an already established character, they explain, especially since it’s basically an entirely new world they were occupying. But as Westhuysen points out, “It would be a disservice if Brian had written it exactly the same as the animation.”
The remake is a new way to enjoy and live through the stories of Alfea’s fairies. “I think that this show really does a good job of portraying the good, the bad, and the ugly; about teenage years,” says Cowen. The remake is about “showing young men and women that it's okay to go along with your journey, to be patient in your journey, and to really dig deep into who you are,” she adds. “I love the theme of it, like your difference is also your superpower.”
There is, of course, the issue of the missing Flora and Tecna. The former was established to be Terra’s cousin, and “If we're lucky enough to get a second series, she is certain to appear,” says Salt—fingers crossed the same goes for Tecna! Terra is the completely new one in the remake. “I think she, for me, is the character I most relate to from when I was a teenager,” says Salt, who acknowledges the very large lack of the Winx Latina member. Terra, though, presented a different kind of character, one that Salt said she would have loved as a kid, “for that sort of need for approval, and to help find my identity which I think is something she is still working on by the end of the series.”
“I think it would be great if they still connected with the magic, I think the magic is still there. And I hope we’ve created a space where people can still escape, like they did with the animation,” says Elisha.
Winner: Fate: The Winx Saga
- It’s a new take on an already established tale—and judging by the Netflix Top 10 list, it’s bound to get big.
- Plus, we’re only on the first season and the girls already have us hooked.
Grand Champion: Fate: The Winx Saga
So first things first, it’s clear that the remake isn’t for kids anymore—and it isn’t just for those who watched the cartoon as kids, either. While both the live-action and OG cartoon were centered around the friendship of the Winx fairies, this remake is a fresh—and TBH, binge-worthy—take on it!
this strange new world.