Last Monday, The Powerpuff Girls reboot premiered on Cartoon Network. Since then, we’ve been enjoying brand-new episodes featuring our favorite animated superheroes Chemical-X-borne sisters Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup. And though there have been quite a few changes from the original series – notably, the theme song and the absence of the original voice actresses in the three main roles – the show has retained much of its tongue-in-cheek charm.
But there’s one character missing from the new series that actually makes a pretty huge difference: the Mayor’s assistant, Ms. Sara Bellum.
You may remember Ms. Bellum as the brains of the operation (and, if not, her name kind of gives that one away). Smart, sassy, independent, and beautiful (we knew this even though her face is never shown except for once, briefly), Ms. Bellum gave the girls a strong female mentor to look up to. And though the Professor also was a wonderful mentor and made a great dad, Ms. Bellum was something special in that she provided an example of the power and influence a woman could have in the world.
But in a new episode that aired this past Monday, titled “Bye, Bye Bellum,” we sadly learned that Ms. Bellum had saved up so much vacation time that she was like, “Peace out, Mayor” via letter.
The Mayor then reminisced about everything Ms. Bellum did for him during her tenure aside from actually saving the day, which she did many times.
Like when she opened pickle jars.
And tucked him into bed at night.
In the episode, he stood around in his underwear and grieved his loss, because this woman literally did everything for him.
About the decision to phase Ms. Bellum out of the show, Executive Producer Nick Jennings told the Los Angeles Times that, “We felt like Ms. Bellum wasn’t quite indicative of the kind of messaging we wanted to be giving out at this time, so we sort of had her move on. And that was a good choice I think on our part.”
We’re not sure we agree – especially considering what he also said about the decision to add a new villain called Manboy, whom Jennings says “is a perfect kind of villain for us. He’s an old-thinking type of male character set into this modern-day world.”
While we appreciate this new villain and understand how his ideology will come into play this season, the cutting of Ms. Bellum’s character sort of negates that entire message in a way. We can’t help wanting to ask the male heads of the show questions like, “Was Ms. Bellum too ‘sexy’ for the reboot? And if so, why is showing the Mayor in his underwear okay but a woman in a tight-fitting outfit not?”
As far as the story itself goes, of course everything turns out alright and Ms. Bellum gets her well-deserved-vacation – the last scene of the episode shows her sitting on the beach, reading the Townsville newspaper and saying she knew the Mayor would be just fine. You go, Ms. Bellum.
But as happy as we are that Ms. Bellum isn’t at the Mayor’s beck and call any longer, we can’t help but wonder deep down whether she would’ve been a huge asset to the new series, considering the embodiment of “unapologetically strong AND feminine” she brought to Craig McCracken’s original series. In a show composed overwhelmingly of male adult characters, wouldn’t a more powerful message than Ms. Bellum leaving be having her promoted — maybe from assistant to a higher position at City Hall, therefore still serving her original purpose of providing this awesome example to the girls?
Seems like we aren’t the only ones who think she’d make a good politician, either — Lauren Faust, kick-ass feminist animator and creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, who met husband Craig McCracken while working on the original Powerpuff Girls series, totally agrees.
We’re hoping the new Powerpuff Girls sees the return of Ms. Bellum eventually, and in a position where she makes her own rules as opposed to follows someone else’s. But for now, we hope she’s having the time of her life on her way-overdue four-year vacation.