Avatar: The Last Airbender
The ultimate binge-worthy show with the greatest display of female empowerment
I have never considered myself a fan of animated television but I needed to immerse myself in a new TV series to escape from the quarantine reality last year. Avatar: The Last Airbender came highly recommended by a good friend and I thought I would give it a try since I had binged everything else on Netflix. I was a bit hesitant at first as I thought the show was for children and being almost 30, there was no way that I could relate to the issues the characters were facing. Not more than 10 minutes into the pilot episode was I proven wrong. I instantly related to Aang’s situation and understood why he ran from a responsibility that he didn’t feel he was ready for and as the series continued I watched him develop his skills and witness his transformation.
The series taught me many valuable lessons and helped me to look at my issues in a different light, but the ultimate reason I feel in love with the show is because of its beautiful display of female empowerment.
There are multiple situations scattered throughout the series that showcase the courage and confidence of the female characters, however, there are two in particular that continue to stand out to me to this day.
Katara Masters Water Bending
If you haven’t watched the series this is a fair warning of the spoiler alert that I’m about to divulge.
Katara is a water-bender from the Southern Water Tribe and due to the constant destruction of the Fire Nation, all of the water-benders in her tribe were either killed or kidnapped and there was no one left to help her groom her talent of water bending. While on the journey to help Aang master his skills and prepare for his battle with the Fire Lord, the team makes a pit stop in the North where the Northern Water Tribe resides to learn water bending from Master Pakku. To make a long story short, Master Pakku refuses to teach Katara how to hone her skills of water-bending because she is a woman. The way that Katara stands up for herself and pushes the social norms of the Southern Tribe’s customs is truly inspiring. She eventually learns how to master water-bending and becomes one of the strongest benders ever known.
Toph Creates Metal Bending
Toph is by far one of the strongest characters in the series. As a blind Earth-Bender, she is proof that your disabilities can also be your greatest strength! In the second season finale, Toph finds herself captured by two men that work for her father. She is held hostage in a small metal prison with no means of escape, that is until her abductor makes a statement that was intended to cripple her self-esteem.
“You might think you’re the greatest Earth-Bender in the world, but even you can’t bend metal.”
This statement sparks an idea within Toph and she begins to focus on the metal she’s enclosed in. As she begins to make progress she encourages herself to continue pushing forward. Moments later she successfully bends the metal, being the first person to ever do it! She then forces her two abductors into the metal container and proclaims that she is the greatest Earth-Bender in the world! It’s a proud moment for her and such a beautiful moment to witness. Just knowing that this positive imagery is being displayed in the homes of millions of young girls invokes such an incredible feeling.
These young women are confident, bold, and courageous and are a great representation of female empowerment.
Notable Life Lessons
Another reason I would consider the show to be binge-worthy is all of the life lessons taught within the series. The lesson of forgiveness and the importance of letting go was shown in such a beautiful way and even helped me to realize that holding onto hurt will only cause more pain in the end. The dilemma that Aang faced when dealing with the punishment of the Fire Lord and how is he stayed true to his morals. The courage Sokka displayed when leading the troops to battle even though he was fearful of the outcome. And the transformation of Prince Zuko and how he realized that his nation was the cause of the divisiveness within the four nations.
In addition to the well-developed storylines, the action scenes in the series are incredibly exciting and fun to watch. I would have never guessed that I would have enjoyed a series that was meant for children and honestly, I learned a lot more than I had expected! The relationship between the characters is authentic and heartfelt, while the comedic dialogue brings joy and fulfillment to the audience. This is a series that I am excited to show my future children and a series that I will continue to enjoy for years to come.
If you haven’t yet watched it, please do yourself a favor and give the show a chance! Then watch The Legend of Korra for even more action-packed fun!
About the author
Meagan A. Culberson is the creator of the lifestyle website SIngleGirlClub.com. A platform that encourages single women to build a better relationship with themselves. Additionally, she is an aspiring producer focusing on diverse stories.