“Why am I watching this?!”
Amongst my laughter at the cheesiness of it all, I often find myself asking this question when I watch either one of my two favourite kid’s TV shows.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Think bright colours. Think martial arts. Think secret identity and superpowers, a diverse cast, and a plot so utterly predictable you basically paint by numbers to write an episode.
Yes, ladies and gents, my greatest weakness is Power Rangers.
It’s a really great TV show for diversity: in the first season, two-thirds of the superhero team were women, and two-thirds were an ethnic minority. That’s something we don’t see these days: the Avengers and even Guardians of the Galaxy fail at diversity and only have one token woman on the team. Even when during the second season the black guy and Asian woman were written out, they were replaced by a black girl and an Asian guy. There’s a nerd who learns self-defence, and an air-headed gymnast who shows it’s cool to be tough and girly. Even the main villain is a woman of colour.
But it’s also incredibly cheesy. I know it’s aimed at children, but casting twenty-somethings as teenagers has always been a big reason as to why I’m terrible at guessing how old someone is. Each episode follows the same basic plot: villain takes an object important/special to one of the Power Rangers, turns it into a monster which nearly defeats the Rangers, they rally and nearly defeat the monster, at which point the monster grows into a 30 storey giant and in response, the Rangers call upon their robotic ‘zords’ to destroy the monster once and for all.
I think I enjoy it for the predictability, although I am fully aware I’m twenty-eight years old and watching a TV aimed at children one-quarter my age.
The other TV show I was kinda obsessed with when I was younger is called The Tribe. It’s a New Zealand post-apocalyptic tween/teen soap opera where all the adults have died from a virus and the world is run by children who form ‘tribes’ to support each other. The Tribe is basically unheard of in Australia, but it was popular around the rest of the world, and even though I grew obsessed, I’m still to this day trying to figure out why. Everything about the show was just pure crap. The writing, the plot, the acting, the costumes, the make-up, the set design, the acting, the directing, the sound editing… all of it was very poor. But put it all together and it was greater than the sum of its parts.
It was a surprisingly feminist TV show. I mean sure, the lead characters were almost always white, but during the seasons where she was present, the leader of the Mall Rats was female.
There were people of colour in major roles. Ebony, a villainous character for much of the 5 season run, is not only female, but mixed-race. She had two real-life sisters who later joined the cast as Ebony’s sisters. There was a Maori girl named Cloe. There was an Indian boy named Dal. There was a girl of Asian descent called Tai-San, who ended up in a relationship with a guy of undetermined mixed race called Lex, an antagonist-turned anti-hero.
Not only were there teen girls in leadership roles and plenty of non-white actors, there was also an attempt at a sexuality other than heterosexual when May thought she was in love with Salene, and a few disabled characters… OK, well, the guy in the wheelchair learned to walk again, but Lex was dyslexic and KC couldn’t read. As a bonus, each actor cast was roughly the same age as their character. No twenty year olds playing fifteen year olds! Over a five year run we actually saw the cast grow up and change physically as they matured.
I have no idea why I enjoyed it so much. It’s embarrassing, really, to have such a passion for something I recognise as bad. But at least no one can tease me for enjoying it. I’m the worst one to pick on it. It’s SO BAD.
(Incidentally, when Power Rangers moved production to New Zealand, lots of The Tribe actors starred in Power Rangers.)