Over on a poll and on tumblr I got into a discussion about whether or not Winx needs to be more mature and what not. This inspired me to type a little something about it. Some of this will be from said discussion.
One of the main things that gets bought up a lot in the discussion of Winx and maturity is what other children's shows are doing. And how other shows kids' shows often have a more adult message beneath the initally kiddy stuff. While I don’t necessarily think that Winx needs to be like other kids’ shows but I don’t think it would hurt for the author to seek inspirations from other shows. It wouldn’t hurt for him to see what other shows are doing right so that he can better his own show. I don't want Winx to be an exact replica of, like, Sailor Moon or something. However I think the goal of every author should be to improve the quality of his or her work as opposed to staying at the same level or, worse, getting lazy. And to be quite honest I do think the writing has dropped in quality--something that can easily be fixed--and I think the reason this is, is the drop in the age of the target audience.
So what was the target audience and what should it be? Admittedly I am one of the firm believers that they should have matured the show with their original audience or at the very least kept the older original target audience. Why? Because these are the people who watched and adored the show the longest. These are the people who will most appreciate the show. That said what did they do? They lowered
the target age. I really don’t like how they did that at all--it came off to me as a money grab. They tried to pick up a new audience that didn’t take to the show and left many of their older and faithful viewers feeling forgotten/disappointed. I would have been absolutely
fine with them keeping it aimed at (about) 8-13 year olds. It was when they lowered it to 3-6 year olds that I was dissatisfied. Because it became too childish for me. I mean you can even see the difference in the clothing; with the older target audience of the first three seasons viewers got to see Bloom and Musa in pants--a more tomboy style. But when the age group dropped everything got way too glittery and way too pink. Basically I liked what they had, they didn’t need to fix what wasn’t broken. At first (during seasons 1-3) they had a very decent blend of maturity and childishness. Now I feel as though it's just childishness and that (on a more personal note) just doesn't captivate me and hold me in. That kind of switch (especially if it really was a money grab) just makes me personally feel betrayed as one of the many, many, many original viewers that woke up every morning at 6 am on the dot to catch the show. To know that they'd try to pick up a whole new audience instead of considering that their old viewers would be pumped to see their childhood favorite coming back.
I do agree with pro-childish-Winx people (for lack of a better title) that the childlike simplicity isn’t
bad. But I can’t blame people for being curious; for wondering what it would be like if the show did get maturer. And that's typically what it is--people are intrigued by what Winx would be like if they dared to go darker. I think the childlike simplicity has it’s ups and downs. The up is that one can just watch the show to watch it. It’s just fun and relaxing. Another up is that it offers an escape from the darkness of reality. And I can get on bored with that so long as it's not taking away from the plot. Sometimes it is nice to just watch a show that isn't so deep and dark. However, the down is that (at least in the case of Winx) some characters–the villains mainly–are lacking depth and complexity. Even basic depth and complexity that is helpful in forming connections to characters even in kids’ shows.
This is where Winx starts getting compared to other shows that many believe 'do it better'. Again I'm fine with the writing (as it was in seasons 1-3) but I think there's room for improvement. Movies like Spirited Away and Kiki's Delivery service are two examples of childrens' movies that have a perfect blend of that upbeat happiness and that deeper meaning. Spirited Away has a child who has to move and then she gets caught between realms and has to save her parents. This is pretty dark--however it's still pretty cute and funny because the characters a quirky and there's always hope. There's also a lot of comedy. Sailor Moon got pretty dark with Nehelinia and how she would hurt other people to try to stay young and beautiful--in the end she just really needed a second chance. While yes this veered onto the dark side there was still a lot of silly humor to keep the viewer from getting depressed. There are some kids' shows/movies that get way too dark to be kids shows/movies (like Bridge to Tarabithia). But there are also shows like Winx that get a little too kiddy. To the point where it may as well be another Dora the Explorer or Peppa Pig. I don't think Winx is bad or awful I just think it needs more balance.
I guess what this boils down to though is that everyone has a different cup of tea. I myself am fond of more complex shows (but can get on bored with a simpler one if I'm in the mood) or at least a deeper underlying theme that an adult can pick up on if he/she chooses. And I totally get that that’s not for some people. And I think the first 3 seasons of Winx had that. But the show lost it when the target age was lowered.
All of this said, I do enjoy Winx loads, but there’s also a lot that I feel like it has come to lack. I also admit that I did drop the show midway through season 6. But I love the first 3 loads and pretty much only offer those seasons praise.