Given that Avatar: The Last Airbender’s arrival on Netflix was such a smash hit, with the show staying in the service’s various top 10 lists for months, it was only a matter of time until they also secured the rights to The Legend of Korra, the follow-up series.
As of this week, The Legend of Korra has hit Netflix, and it’s already the #5 offering on the entire service, #2 for TV, and I expect it to hang around the top ten for a while as people realize that A) it’s amazing and B) there are 52 episodes to get through, which is a lot more hours to consume that any new movie in the top 10, or new seasons of other Netflix shows.
This moment feels a lot like redemption for the show, which debuted in 2012 on Nickelodeon, a home that both extended it past its originally intended lifespan, then later tried to kill it prematurely. And yet, Korra endured, and became enough of a classic in the eyes of fans to land here, as a top 10 Netflix show, eight years after its debut.
What went wrong with Korra back in the Nickelodeon days? Where to start.
1) Originally Korra was meant to be a one-off miniseries, but Nickelodeon greenlit it for more seasons after the fact. The problem is that the series was not originally written to be a multi-part journey like we saw with Avatar: The Last Airbender, all scripted out from the start, so that resulted in some messier storylines and forgotten characters by the end of the series.
2) Toward the end of its lifespan, budget cuts dramatically slashed through Korra, causing production to have to do backflips to finish certain episodes in creative ways. In one instance, the show was given a choice between doing a cheap clip show, or letting go of production staff. They chose the clip show.
3) One of the most enduring legacies of The Legend of Korra is the (spoilers, spoilers, spoilers) final relationship between Asami and Korra, who were both previously dating Mako at different times, and yet the final season and the series finale seemed to indicate the two were now romantically attracted to each other. But this was 2014, and apparently writing an overt relationship between two female characters was not possible for a kids channel, and so the series ended with little more than a bit of hand-holding in its final moments, and it had to later be confirmed by the creators that yes, the two had formed a romantic bond (and a billion pieces of fan art were spawned in the process).
But Korra has stood the test of time and is now getting a very well-deserved moment in the sun here on Netflix where it will be viewed by probably 50x the audience that was originally watching it on Nickelodeon. While the general consensus is that the series as a whole isn’t quite as good as The Last Airbender before it, that’s such a high bar, even getting anywhere close to it still makes for a great show.
Avatar drama rages to this day, as the co-creators of the universe just walked away from Netflix’s live-action adaptation of The Last Airbender, citing creative differences. We’ll see what happens next, but for now, at least we have these two classic series in their entirety on Netflix for a while, and that’s enough.