Just when you thought you'd seen it all, along comes an announcement from The Hub, a low-rated cable TV channel that is attempting to increase its audience of children between 2 years old and age 11 by airing a cartoon featuring a boy who gains super powers by wearing a special ring -- and dressing as a girl.
Set to debut on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., the gender-bending program stars twelve-year-old Guy Hamdon, “an extreme dude who inherits the power ring of his deceased aunt -- the amazing FEMALE superhero SheZow! The ring gives him villain-battling super powers, but was meant to be worn by a girl, and the result is absolutely she-larious!”
The 26-episode Australian-Canadian animated series begins with the death of the boy's Aunt Agne, who was the previous SheZow. The ring was meant for Guy's twin sister, Kelly, but her brother decided to put it on himself as a joke.
Once on his finger, the ring won't come off, and since it was intended to be worn by a female, Guy must wear a large wig, a purple skirt and cape, pink gloves and white go-go boots to gain access to the many powers it bestows, including tremendous strength, speed, flight and his strongest ability, a sonic scream. (Yeah, no gender stereotypes here.)
Whenever trouble arises, the boy says the magic words “You go, girl!” to become the cross-dressing superhero and returns to his secret identity by shouting “She-yeah!”
SheZow is assisted by his best friend, Maz -- who takes on a different sidekick identity in each episode -- and Kelly, who controls the underground “She-lair” with Sheila, the supercomputer.
Young male viewers will find even more absurd the premise that the hero uses his “beautility belt,” which contains various weapons concealed inside feminine products like laser lipstick and vanishing cream.
And what superhero series would be complete without super villains to battle? SheZow has a rogue's gallery that includes Megamonkey, Coldfinger, Candy Rapper, Tattoozula and his arch-enemy, SheZap.
During an interview with Joe Flint of Los Angeles Times, Margaret Loesch, chief executive of The Hub network, stated:
When I first heard about the show, my reaction was “Are you out of your minds?” Then I looked at it, and I thought, “This is just funny.”
Airing “SheZow” is something of a gamble for the channel, which debuted in October of 2010 and has easily lost in the ratings race by drawing only 56,000 viewers a day while Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network attract an average of 934,000 children.
However, executives counter that although the numbers are small, they are on the rise. Its ratings among kids 2 to 11 are up 45 percent from last year and 75 percent from its launch. The Hub is even within striking distance of Nicktoons, which averages 80,000 kids in the same age group.
Along the way, “SheZow” has had its share of ups and downs. The series began as a “One Episode Wonder” on “Shorty McShort's Shorts” and drew such high ratings it became an animated series.
However, in order to air the series in the United States, the catch phrase had to be changed from “SheZow happens!” to “You go, girl!”
Despite the strange, bizarre premise, Loesch is maintaining a positive attitude about the series, speculating that if “SheZow” is a hit, the channel and its toy partner Hasbro can start merchandising her white go-go boots and her ring.
“We'll see, won't we?” she asked.
No, we probably won't.