If you are able, watch the video first. It’s the intro to the original show. Have you watched it yet? Did you even need to? First appearing as part of the audition special that became The What A Cartoon Show, Craig McCracken’s little girls was done in a more Hanna-Barbera style tone but the full series was visualized by Genndy Tartakovsky and became a beloved favorite for kids growing up in that period and even a few not-quite-kids. It even inspired an anime, Powerpuff Girls Z. A reboot was attempted in 2016 that lacked the heart of the original and also had a few cringe-worthy (to put it midly) moments with the kindergarten-aged superheroines. Unless you want to see minors twerking, dealing with mind-controlling unicorns, and dating adult men that happen to resemble someone working on the show, the girls losing their minds and not being nearly as loving to their father/creator as the original. How could you make that worse?
Someone at the CW apparently had a beer that needed holding.
“The Powerpuff Girls” could soon fly again. Variety has learned that a live-action version of the classic Cartoon Network series is in development at The CW.
In the updated version of the series, the titular superheroes are now disillusioned twentysomethings who resent having lost their childhood to crime fighting. Will they agree to reunite now that the world needs them more than ever?
When you’re done facepalming, read on. Of course there’s more.
The project hails from writers and executive producers Heather Regnier and Diablo Cody. Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, and David Madden will executive produce via Berlanti Productions. Warner Bros. Television will produce.
Regnier is currently under an overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. Her past credits include the recent “Veronica Mars” revival, “SMILF,” “iZombie,” “Falling Skies,” and “Sleepy Hollow.”
Cody is best known for writing the critically-acclaimed comedy feature “Juno,” for which she won the Academy Award for best original screenplay in 2008. Her other films include “Jennifer’s Body” and “Young Adult.” She also co-created the Amazon comedy series “One Mississippi” alongside Tig Notaro and Showtime’s “United States of Tara” starring Toni Collette.
You know how I keep saying being good doesn’t mean someone works on every project. For something involving the Powerpuff Girls, there’s another example. I’ve heard mixed reviews on some items in these resumes and that’s on the rare occasion that it’s something I’d be interested in. This not the resume of someone adapting a fun comedy series. Even Juno is a bit of a dark comedy about a pregnant teen and the trials she has to go through.
I’ve seen comparisons to the CW’s other fun comic to dark drama conversion Riverdale, where murder is rampant, Archie is re-imagined as a jerk who sleeps with his teacher, Jughead is interested in Betty…or anything besides hamburgers, and recent addition to the comics Cheryl Blossom is now a mean girl lesbian because. This is not a good sign for the “disillusioned twenty-somethings” they want to turn the five-year-old girls into. Even the Variety article makes the connection.
Should the show go to series, it would check multiple boxes for The CW. The network and Berlanti have built up a large swath of superhero programming via the DC Universe, while also placing an emphasis on representation for people of color and women onscreen. The CW has also found great success in programming more adult-themed reboots of beloved IP, such as what they did with the Archie Comics franchise and “Riverdale,” another Berlanti production.
They also took Supergirl from CBS and darkened it up into a platform for social preaching, sucked all the other bright colors from the DC Universe, and we just went over Riverdale. Positive and brightly colored fun tales are something the CW has been avoiding like Covid-19 for years, even before Arrow started their CW DC Universe. See also what they did to British kids show The Tomorrow People. So their even considering doing a version of The Powerpuff Girls is a bit odd. Why make this show in the first place?
It’s my theory that too many of today’s creators have no joy, no happiness in their lives and just want to write about miserable, morally questionable people. That’s up to them but why take something that’s the polar opposite and turn them into the joyless tales they prefer to tell? Why not make something new? I’m starting to think that making stuff they don’t like into stuff they do like is the point, either because they want to claim every franchise under their banner, they want to “prove” that real life is pain and torment and every show should reflect this, or they’re too lazy to promote something original. Maybe even some combination of those. Everything must bend to their tastes and preferences and they’ll find a way to either bully you into silence with the bigot tag because of some race/gender swap or making a character part of the LGBT+ movement (often making either look bad due to their inability to write a character that isn’t awful in some way), so they’ll even pick on this show.
However, the city of Townsville have the average IQ of a bar of soap. The smartest people in town (the mayor’s secretary, the kindergarten teacher, and the professor that created three lifeforms out of a pile of stuff that got exposed to a mutating chemical when his lab monkey went crazy) still have issues. The villains are the most one-note you can get away with while still making them interesting. The heroes, something impossible with normal science and I would love (or rather loathe) to know how they’re going to explain that in a real-world universe…like, any of it, would be the youngest superheroes on television if Fantastic Max didn’t exist, and are still only tied maybe by the PJ Masks (I’m not sure how old they’re supposed to be). There is no way anything resembling this show can possibly be done in a gritty live-action series. One of the darkest, if not the darkest, episodes of the original series involves the girls superspeeding home from school to go on vacation, accidentally zooming into the future, and finding that Him (the androgynous not-devil Buttercup kicks in the face in the intro) has taken over and everybody has lost what left of their minds, scaring the girls so badly that they burst the time barrier back home and are so scared that they refuse the vacation because Townsville can’t be unprotected for a moment…except for the later episode where Professor Utomium has to move to the town of Citysville for a while and the place makes Gotham City look like Metropolis so they moved back home. Nothing about this show translates into live-action.
So I’m hoping this one falls apart and doesn’t get approved. Nothing about this is a good idea. Create an original property and you can do anything you want. Corrupt a childhood favorite out of laziness or entitlement and you’re going to produce a terrible show…or at least a horrible adaptation, and whatever else this show might turn out to be that’s exactly what it is, a horrible adaptation that ruins another beloved childhood property while the no fun writers continue to murky everything up.