Before the Twilight movies, it seemed like there were tons of fairy, witch, and mermaid shows, movies, and books wherever I looked. When and why did that fade away? While there’s been a resurgence lately, it’s not enough to fill that void I’ve been missing.
Why We Need More Mermaids and Fairies
As I’ve grown up, I realized more and more that I want to hold on to my favorite shows and books from my childhood. It’s getting old reading the same stories multiple times with different characters by different authors. And I’ve grown tired of the dark and NSFW books marketed as young adult (ahem, A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Silver Flames).
I want more shows and books that focus on other things than war or the end of the world. In the world today, we can all use some light-hearted stories. Maybe that’s why I’m rereading the Enola Holmes books and rewatching shows from my childhood. But it’s not enough.
We need to bring what made our childhood favorites great to the present day. I’m advocating for more book-to-film adaptations that should have been made a long time ago and producers bringing back shows that were canceled prematurely. Honestly, Disney’s been doing well at that with their live-action movies of their princesses. But what about the fairies and mermaids I loved as a kid? Why haven’t they gotten a chance to shine again?
The Difference Between Faeries and Fairies
You’re probably confused why I want more fairies when there is so much faerie content. Fairies and faeries are entirely different creatures that commonly get mixed up. Here are the basics to help you differentiate what kind of story you’re reading.
Historically, faeries are the sneaky tricksters that usually bring bad fortune. They also typically are described as evil-looking with sharp features. So when someone who practices witchcraft nowadays says to “leave the faeries alone,” these are who they’re talking about.
Fairies, on the other hand, are much more benevolent and cute. Sometimes they have wings; other times, they grant wishes. The best example I can give of a typical fairy portrayal is Tinker Bell: she’s both mischievous and cute without being too dangerous.
You probably know about the Fae from A Court of Thorns and Roses, The Iron Fey, or The Folk of the Air series. They’re usually described as humanoids with magical powers or features like tails or wings.
Barbie’s Fairy and Mermaid-Centric Movies
I know this is cliché, but I grew up loving Barbie. And if you haven’t watched Barbie’s many fairy and mermaid movies, you’ve missed out on many 90s babies’ favorites. And while Barbie has had a few new fairy-centric movies, nothing quite lives up to her golden era.
Fairytopia, Mermaidia, and Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow were the best fairy movies of their time – dare I say, best fairy movies ever. Elina, the main fairy of the trilogy, just kept getting better and better in every film. And I love that her “romances” always took a back burner to her quests.
In addition to Barbie’s other fairy movies, there have been four mermaid movies. Out of those four, The Pearl Princess was my favorite. It took Rapunzel’s story and put it underwater. Honestly, it’s no surprise these movies keep getting made when they’re still so unique to other children’s movies nowadays.
Disney’s ‘Fairies’ Movies and Books
Did you ever watch the Tinker Bell movies? Did you know there were books set in Pixie Hollow and Neverland, too? The books were set sometime after the Tinker Bell movies once the Pixie Hollow tree stopped making pixie dust, which meant fairies were at risk for extinction.
Each book was full of fun stories that never get old. I’m so glad I rediscovered these recently because as I collect a new book, I get to reminisce about the happy times of my childhood a bit more.
Honestly, I could rewatch all of the movies, especially the last one, The Legend of the Neverbeast. More were supposed to be made after that, but they were “too expensive” for Disney. But I’m holding out hope for live-action Tinker Bell and Peter Pan and Wendy movies.
‘Emily Windsnap’ Series
I fell in love with this series when the first book came out. And even though I’ve grown up and probably read too many children’s books, I will never stop loving this series. Liz Kessler created a character and world I wish was real, even to this day.
The series follows Emily as she discovers she’s half-mermaid and goes on many adventures with other merpeople like her. The latest book, Emily Windnsap and the Tides of Time, came out in 2020, so I’m hoping for a few more books.
I also hope that the plans to make this a movie or television series pan out. I might be technically too old for the target audience, but I’m sure that my nieces and I would have so much fun watching an Emily Windsnap series together.
‘H2O: Just Add Water’ and ‘Mako Mermaids’
Johnathan M. Shiff can do no wrong with magical shows. H2O: Just Add Water came out when I was in elementary school, and I have probably watched it all the way through twenty times since it got put on Netflix years ago.
It’s about three girls that become mermaids one fateful night. Season two is the hardest to get through because of one new character, but season three is so good, you have to watch all of the show. I still listen to season one’s soundtrack in the car sometimes.
Mako Mermaids takes place a few years after H2O: Just Add Water and follows new mermaids. It also introduces mermen to the story and new powers we didn’t see in the original series. And if you stick around to the last season, one of the H2O girls makes an appearance.
I read the book about ten years after the movie starring JoJo, Emma Roberts, and Sara Paxton came out. And all I can say is watch the film if you have to choose between them. It was iconic, and I am so glad it was put on Netflix so I can rewatch it after a long week.
Aquamarine sparked my love of mermaids. Looking back, it is so much better than anyone could expect from an early 2000s fantasy movie. Even the special effects were good for the time it was made. Honestly, if you somehow missed this movie, you need to check it out.
‘Rainbow Magic’ Franchise
There are over 300 books in this franchise. Most of those are part of seven-book series, but there are quite a few “special edition” standalones set on the same island with the same characters. By the time I was “too old” for fairy books, there were only five series and a few standalones. I think it’s about time I start collecting these books again.
There was one movie based on the stories, but I never got to watch it as it was never released in America. Regardless, I’m still hoping Disney, Nickelodeon, Hulu, or another streaming service grabs the rights to these books so I can finally see Rainbow Magic on screen like I’d wished when I was a kid. I’ll even help if I have to. Just give me a fairy series, please.
Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’
While I wait for the live-action remake of this Disney classic, I’ve been rewatching the three Little Mermaid movies and the TV show. I have a special place in my heart for the sequel movie, The Little Mermaid: Return to the Sea, but all of them are amazing. Seriously, if you haven’t watched them in a while, do it.
We all know the story of Ariel, but the sequel tells her daughter’s journey to find out who she really is. The third movie is technically a prequel about Ariel bringing music back to Atlantica. And if you haven’t watched the show, you’re missing out on some fantastic characters.
I never hear anyone talk about this movie, and that’s a shame. I was obsessed growing up, and I recently rediscovered my love for it. The songs and story were amazing (if a little rushed). But even more, the fairy designs were beautiful, and I want more.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had fairies and mermaids hit the big and small screens that get the recognition they deserve. Dinsey, Netflix, Hulu – take note. Stop with the dark remakes of bright-colored shows like Winx Club and give us the light-hearted stories we need right now.