“Before they took major risks with their teenage characters on The Legend of Korra, Konietzko and DiMartino created a modern animated classic in Avatar: The Last Airbender. (Not to be confused with the M. Night Shyamalan film The Last Airbender, which, everyone agrees, did a fairly clumsy job of capturing the magic of the original series.) The show, which aired from 2005-2008 on Nickelodeon, was a bona fide hit pulling in huge ratings for the network.
The spiritual aspect of the show (mixed in with the adventure of its young characters and borrowing directly from Eastern influences) made it tremendously influential with its young (and old) audience. Not only that, but the success of the first series bought creators Konietzko and DiMartino a lot of leeway when it came to their spin-off, which premiered in 2010.
It turns out they would need every ounce of it.
Censorship: It’s always tempting to watch something you’re not supposed to, but this week in particular, with its Sony hacks and cinematic censorship, the notion of watching something forbidden feels like an especially political move.The Legend of Korra was never quite forbidden, never completely canceled, perhaps due to that lingering Avatargoodwill. However, during the show’s first season, it aired in a coveted Saturday-morning slot. After killing off a character on-screen in the Season 1 finale, Korra was considered too risqué and adult for the Saturday-morning crowd and was moved to Friday nights. But Korra continued to air dark material. That, coupled with less-than-stellar ratings, an ill-timed leak of episodes, and any number of mysterious behind-the-scenes factors, resulted in the surprising move to online-only Korra. In its final seasons, Korra became too dangerous, too risky for Nick to air. But that outsider status made it downright irresistible to certain viewers. Especially teens.
Racial Representation: The show doesn’t take place in our world, but, as I mentioned before, it has an undeniable Eastern influence. That’s why the mostly white casting in the Shyamalan movie was so controversial…”