The Legend of Korra: A Discovery in Several Ways
February 29, 2016 by Leslie Anderson
Recently, Dave and I started watching a new show: The Legend of Korra. I watched a few episodes of Avatar with my little cousin, and generally enjoyed them. As I’ve seen some funny images from The Legend of Korra over the years, I was geeked to sit down and finally give it a proper watch.
In some ways, it’s perfect. Its campiness tends to pull the punch on any excessive drama, and the tension is balanced with a very playful approach to story-telling. Despite all of these pluses, though, I occasionally found myself wanting to walk away.
This wasn’t surprising to me as I have a love-hate relationship with most forms of media. This is no fault of the media itself; my tastes are merely strange and unpredictable, but when I love something, I love it too much: I’ll rewatch episodes or movies at a rate that would nauseate the average person.
My taste runs in the comedy vein: Roseanne, Bob’s Burgers, Rick and Morty, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are my most re-watched shows, but there’s also a few non-comedies in the mix. BoJack Horseman is a perennial favorite despite frequently dipping into dark waters. I adore Babylon 5, a space-drama to end all space-dramas. Dead Like Me, a frequently sobering show about both death and life-after-death, was an obsession for a few years.
I’ve never quite understood where my lines are drawn. I love Parks and Rec, yet have never made it past season three. Arrested Development is great, except that last time I watched it, I struggled to finish season two. Despite devouring the first three-fifths of Babylon 5 about a hundred times, I’ve only finished watching the series once.
I think that, thanks to The Legend of Korra, I finally get it.
I wanted to stop watching Korra the second a love triangle threatened the stability of the main characters in a predictable way. I could see the domino effect already starting, and cringed with each new piece it knocked down. And then it hit me:
- I stop watching Parks and Rec when Ben and Leslie’s relationship comes under scrutiny.
- I stop watching Arrested Development when the Bluths begin to accidentally-on-purpose alienate Lucille Two.
- I stop watching Babylon 5 when a primary character shows signs of defecting to the dark-side.
Apparently, what I really don’t like is when bad things happen in predictable ways, especially if it’s a slow burn. Leslie and Ben’s relationship arc lasts forever, and I’m forced to watch episode after episode of the slow, eventual decline. Even if there’s a happy ending, those moments of watching everything fall apart are like agony to me.
Luckily, I was watching The Legend of Korra with Dave, and he was clearly not squirming. In fact, he seemed rather annoyed at all of my squirming. (Dave’s edit: I was.) In an attempt to not further ruin the show for him, I tried to knock it off. (Dave’s edit: Thanks!)
I’m glad that I did. The card house so deliberately stacked by the show did come crashing down in a terribly predictable way. The failed relationships undermined their previous successes, damaged their friendships, and hurt everyone’s feelings. Yet they still managed to largely pull their punches.
When the third-person-out from this love triangle gets their heart broken, they erupt into wailing, complete with snot-bubbles and a tantrum so intense, they have to be carried off. What would normally be a gut-wrenching moment was, instead, funny. And even within the course of a 30-minute episode, they undid the professional damage caused by the skewed relationships and more-or-less balanced things out between the characters. What I expected to be episodes of agony was more like ten minutes. Even I can handle that.
The Legend of Korra won’t be my next Bob’s Burgers, but it does look like it’ll be a fine show, so long as I can remind myself to give it the chance it deserves.