Yesterday some of us learned the word “repiloted,” as in, The CW’s Powerpuff Girls reboot/age-up, Powerpuff, is getting repiloted. The network has made decisions on a bunch of potential fall shows; most of those decisions are of the yes/no variety, but Powerpuff is, apparently, a special creature.
And a leaked script suggests some of the reasons why. We can’t be certain that the script is legit, but we can, I am deeply sorry to say, be certain that it’s very bad. It’s bad in a glib, opportunistic way that feels like someone tried to shove a whole lot of trending topics in a broken blender. Is it salvageable? That, we’ll have to wait and see.
Oh No They Didn’t has a quick summary of what happens in the leaked pilot. Professor Utonium (Donald Faison), canonically a good and loving pops, is now a terrible father who profits off the work of his young superheroes and spends away their inheritance. Buttercup (Yana Perrault) is queer and promiscuous, because we’re really leaning into unwelcome stereotypes here. Bubbles (Dove Cameron) is a washed up child star with a failed reality show. Blossom (Chloe Bennet) remains smart and relatively functional.
Mojo Jojo is no longer a monkey but a human, and his son is the mayor, and there’s a nefarious plot involving a mind control device called a “woolly bear.”A twitter user posted some highlights of the dialogue, which have since been pulled. One exchange had Buttercup declaring, “Life is one big hate boner.” In another, Bubbles referred to her dad dating “beaker bunnies and science hoes.” They talk about sex a lot, because they’re adults now, and that’s how we adults signal our adultness to each other, I guess. There is also a “moveon.org” joke.
Here’s the thing: I was actually kind of into the Powerpuff concept. Superhero stories so rarely get to address what comes after the characters age out of, or away from, being heroes—it’s not the kind of job a person usually does until retirement. Powerpuff Girls is a sweet concept and I loved a lot of the initial run, but if you try to spin out the rest of their lives semi-logically… there are a lot of more interesting questions you can ask about what might come next.
But you have to actually let the girls grow up. This Powerpuff is trying to go for traumatized-and-funny, which is both uncomfortable and a poor fit; you have to retcon the entire original show out of existence to convince audiences that the girls were having a bad time. But a shiny superhero childhood doesn’t guarantee a shiny happy adulthood, and that’s a natural source of conflict for any aged-up reboot.
You can let them grow up in a weird-ass world where monsters come looking for their kittens and one of their nemeses is a monkey. You can lean into the weirdness and think about how a kid would even navigate adolescence after already having had the weight of Townsville on her shoulders. You can let the sisters be sisters, not squabbling mean girls who threaten each other with leaked nudes. (Who does that?) You have Umbrella Academy right there as an example of what aged-up powerful children can do and look like! And really, all that said, if you don’t keep the core kindness of the show, why bother calling it Powerpuff?