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The original portrayal of Asami and Korra’s relationship is also of considerable note. It’s important to remember that in the first season of the show, the creators believed that the show would only be one season. Although the finale and the final seasons show a very different relationship between them, the first season in isolation says a lot about the way that the creators view women and female relationships. Their main connection is in the fact that they’re competing over a boy: Mako.
Although outside of this relationship they are given their own attributes and character arcs, the relationship of the two main female characters to each other is almost entirely defined by a love triangle where they compete for male attention. In the third season, after a great deal of pressure from fans who disliked the way that female relationships were portrayed in the show, the show liberated Korra and Asami from the love triangle and started to do right by their friendship, and women as a whole. In the first season, the creators flopped at making Korra’s and Asami’s individuality airtight in this respect: they forgot that even when discusses issues of relationships, which is entirely a fair theme even in a feminist world, it shouldn’t be reduced to the competition for a man but rather the actual relationship and reciprocal feelings within both parties. The original series also had rivalries between women, but these rivalries came down not to a competition for male attention but to complicated political situations and attitudes towards family. Toph and Katara often clashed, but their relationship still rang true and spoke to their individual personalities and experiences. These same creators who were able to write such compelling women and relationships between them dropped the ball on Korra and Asami for the first season and made them into one long Bechdel-test failure.
However, the creators’ response to fans’ displeasure with the relationship between Korra and Asami was more than we ever could have hoped for: after dropping the love triangle in season three, the finale concluded with Korra and Asami holding hands and looking towards a future together as a couple. For a kids’ show, this is unprecedented. Anything besides heterosexuality has always been a humorous aside in adult dramas until recent years and completely taboo in a children’s show. It’s a risky move to put it into a children’s show given the homophobia in society and particularly the conception that non-heterosexual love is deviant and harmful to children.
Here is where The Legend of Korra really lived up to its final season’s title: Balance. Korra and Asami conclude the show in a very mature fashion where both characters realize their love for one another and stand facing each other hand in hand, just like Zhu Li and Varrick did just minutes before at their wedding altar. It is wholesome, it is a relationship based in trust and comfort, and it is deemed important enough to make up the very last moments of the show.