The New Netflix Series That Could Change The World

By Josh Tyler | Updated

The fantasy Netflix series that could change the world

Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender isn’t just good, it’s important. It’s important because it’s the first legitimate, big-budget, family entertainment released in at least a decade.

Family entertainment does not mean it’s for kids. That’s a modern warping of the term. “Family entertainment” used to mean, and should mean, it’s the kind of entertainment that can be enjoyed by all ages, adults, kids, grandmas, whatever.

And that is what Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender is. It’s for everyone. And everyone can have fun watching it. 

The Netflix series that could change the world

It’s adapted from the Nickelodeon cartoon series of the same name. That series is widely regarded as one of the best of its kind ever produced. It already spawned a movie made by M. Night Shyamalan. But the movie was a failure and is widely reviled by fans of the source material.

This new version, like the animated series before it, is set in an expansive, detailed, and well-thought-out fantasy world. In this place, humans are divided into four tribes based on the four elements. Each tribe has power over the element associated with it. Water tribe members can often “bend” and control water. Fire benders are able to manipulate fire, and so on.

A fire bender in Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender

The story revolves around a 12-year-old boy named Aang (Gordon Cormier), the last of the airbenders and also the Avatar, the only being with the power to control all four elements. He’s forced on a quest, the kind of save-the-world quest every good fantasy story should revolve around.

This new attempt at adapting The Last Airbender for live-action, while not perfect, is far more faithful. And like the original animated series, it totally avoids the modern tendency towards bogging everything down in political controversy. 

Oppa on Netflix
Oppa takes to the sky in The Last Airbender

It also avoids pushing grown-up or edgy ideas that might alienate parents with younger viewers. But it stays true to the show’s tried and true themes of friendship, loyalty, and perseverance against the odds.

As an adaptation, The Last Airbender is about as good as a live-action adaptation of an animated series can get. 

Changes must be made to make it work in the format, but Netflix’s new fantasy series sticks close enough to the original that all but the worst and most miserable pedants should be happy. Perhaps more importantly, it’s true to the spirit of the original. Netflix’s The Last Airbender is bright and optimistic and full of happy moments even amidst the worst gloom. 

Aang flies in Avatar: The Last Airbender

That’s a fundamental part of what made the original work. It’s carried by the indomitable and upbeat spirit of its main character, Aang. And so is the live-action version.

They’ve spared no expense on the special effects. The show is a bright, beautiful, visual fantasy feast. Absent are those endless nighttime action scenes where it’s too dark to see what’s going on that so many fantasy products now use to cheat on special effects.

If there’s a real problem with Netflix’s The Last Airbender, it’s the acting, which is inconsistent at best.

Gordon Cormier as Aang, Kiawentiio Tarbell as Kitara, and Ian Ousley as Saka
Gordon Cormier as Aang, Kiawentiio Tarbell as Kitara, and Ian Ousley as Saka

Gordon Cormier is perfect as Aang, and that’s key since the entire show revolves around him. Dallas Liu does well with the tortured and complex character of Zuko. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee does not disappoint in his portrayal of the complex Uncle Iroh.

But everyone else is a mixed bag.

Ian Ousley is awkward as Saka, but he gets away with it because Saka is an awkward character anyway. And you’ll probably get used to him and even love him in the part. Kiawentiio Tarbell, however, is absolutely terrible as Kitara and there’s just no getting around it. She can’t act. Not at all.

The same is true for many of the actors and actresses playing minor supporting characters who pop up here and there. Some of their scenes are so badly delivered they’re flat-out cringe.

Prince Zuko
Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko

But most of the main players are good, good enough to avoid detracting from the fun and adventure on screen around them. And I have faith that if the show gets a second, the rest of them will get better.

Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender is good. It’s not just good; it’s important. It’s important because it’s doing something no other show has tried in a long time: Being truly family-friendly. 

Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender is the only quality show on streaming that’s genuinely for everyone of all ages. Sit down and enjoy it with the ones you love.

The Avatar

 Support The Last Airbender, and maybe it’ll have the power to bend reality and bring back a world of all-ages, wholesome entertainment that’s been gone far too long. Parents need it. Kids need it. And maybe the entire world needs it.