Last week, the aptly named Nickelodeon cartoon Legend of Korra became legend in itself after the reveal that the two female leads, Korra and Asami, are in romantic love.
For a show that set up a love triangle between the two girls and their mutual male love interest, Mako, the only place fans would have expected “Korrasami” to happen was in the Tumblrverse and their fanfiction dreams.
Can you say plot twist?
The relationship was confirmed by both show creators in separate statements, with Michael Dante DiMartino summing it up best:
“Our intention with the last scene was to make it as clear as possible that yes, Korra and Asami have romantic feelings for each other (Michael Dante DiMartino).”
The bisexual representation through the Korrasami relationship is a huge deal. Like, Lion-Turtle huge (tip of the hat to whoever gets that reference).
But what makes Legend of Korra so progressive isn’t just the bisexual representation in it, but rather how it portrays relationships in general.
Don’t get me wrong, the bisexual representation in this show is a huge deal. LGBTQ characters in cartoons normalizes “alternative” sexualities for the younger generation while giving viewers of the LGBTQ community a sense of recognition and acceptance. And this is a growing trend. Earlier this year, Olivia Olson – voice actress of Marceline in Adventure Time – revealed that the show’s creator confirmed that Marceline and another female character, Princess Bubblegum, did at one point date.
2012’s stop motion zombie film Paranorman caused a massive controversy when football jock Mitch says to Norman’s sister Courtney in a very surprise reveal, “you’re gonna love my boyfriend.”
In Legend of Korra, focus on relationships quickly took a backseat to the characters, their struggles, and their development – part of which happened to be two of the female characters discovering their bisexuality.
And that’s the ultimate normalization of sexuality – putting who a person is before who they date.
Women Supporting Women
At the risk of sounding like a gossipy 14 year old, when Korra and Asami each dated the same guy, Mako, he ultimately wasn’t the best at that “commitment” thing and ended up kind of cheating on each girl…with the other girl (it’s complicated). But instead of making them Gossip Girl level frenemies, Korra and Asami kindle a friendship. Which is refreshing. Too often, we pit female characters against each other over guys, so it’s nice to see an instance where girls are portrayed as being nice to each other rather than competitive for a change.
Korra Being Forward
Guys are traditionally the ones to make the first move. But when it came to her feelings for Mako, Korra was the one to initiate something happening. While at first that led to realistic awkwardness, her honesty eventually led to a relationship, and it’s cool to see that confidence from a female character in a kids show.
The Reality of The Friendzone
Again, at the risk of sounding like a gossipy pre-teen, Mako’s brother Bolin had a crush on Korra in season 1. So when she doesn’t return those feelings and after Bolin sees Mako and Korra kiss, there’s all this crazy drama. But in the end, everyone gets over it. Korra apologizes for kissing Mako in front of Bolin, Bolin and Mako stop fighting over the girl, and they all come out of it as friends rather than resentful.
Relationships Don’t Always Work
Legend of Korra was dotted with dysfunctional relationships, and that’s a good thing. It wasn’t all, “they kiss and fall in love and live happily ever after.” It was a very real look at fights in relationships, unfaithfulness, and imperfection.
Too often, the media folds to focusing on the juicy drama viewers crave, letting any greater narrative fall by the wayside. Take Hunger Games for instance. The books are about a girl taking down the government, but all people can seem to ask about is “team Gale or team Peeta?!”
Ultimately, the lesson Legend of Korra teaches is that we shouldn’t all be dicks to each other and that there’s more to life than whom we’re dating. There’s more to us than who we’re attracted to. And that’s an extremely powerful message to the LGBTQ community, young viewers, and just people in general.
Although the show may be over, its influence is certainly not. And ultimately I think any controversy over LOK’s ending can be summed up by Korra’s best known quote:
“You gotta deal with it!”
(Featured image courtesy of Kotaku)