After 18 years and more than 150 characters, the PowerPuff Girls finally has a woman of color on the show. In Sunday night's one-hour premiere of the five-part TV movie The Powerpuff Girls: The Power of Four, audiences finally met Bliss. Bliss — whose appearance consists of longer legs, darker skin, turquoise hair, and purple eyes — is the PowerPuff Girls' long lost, older sister.
In the same vein as Frozen, Bliss went into self-imposed exile after having a difficult time controlling her destructive powers and manifesting her emotions. When Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup learn about their sister (described as "fierce, fantastic, family"), she's welcomed with open arms and, further, helps them defeat evil. And while there's debate on how well Bliss' introduction was actually executed, her presence is still an overdue victory for the long-running franchise.
In the episode, objects start mysteriously breaking around the house when no one is looking. Ultimately, Professor Utonium (creator of the PowerPuff Girls) unveils Bliss the Teenager as the cause. He explains that 10 years before he accidentally created the trio, he (also accidentally) created Bliss in the quest to form the "perfect little girl." He used sugar, spice, and everything nice, but accidentally added a dose of Chemical W. While the combination gave Bliss special telekinetic, teleportation, and energy powers, it also made her a fatal force.
The Professor explained that Bliss' powerful forces were so difficult for her to control because they would easily be triggered by her emotions. But because her body could let out a force so explosive that it would kill everything around her, Bliss fled Townsville to reside on Bird Poop Island to keep people safe. When she returns to check on the Professor in Power of Four, she and the trio learn of each other and quickly form a butt-kicking bond.
Needless to say, Bliss was an unprecedented sight for the PowerPuff Girls and viewers when she made her debut. Her character, based on appearance alone, is unlike any the series has seen. The Cartoon Network show originally ran for six seasons between 1998 and 2005. In 2008, the 30-minute special The Powerpuff Girls Rule!!! was created for the 10-year anniversary and in 2014, the Powerpuff Girls: Dance Pantsed special (with Ringo Starr attached) aired.
There have been characters of many shapes, sizes, forms, and colors in all of the episodes and specials, but none quite like Bliss. For example, heroes who briefly joined the PowerPuff Girls included Bunny, nicknamed Twisted Sister, who the girls accidentally made with Chemical X (and ultimately explodes while saving them). There was also Bullet, the squirrel who briefly joined the crew after Bubbles gave it Chemical X.
The show also introduced over 140 villains. Some were human-looking, like the white Princess Morbucks, a spoiled, rich daddy's girl nicknamed That Little Brat. Others were different colors, like Bianca Bikini (light purple), The Gangreen Gang (light green), and Sedusa (chalk white). There were also animals like Mojo Jojo (monkey) and Allegro (panda).
Some villains, however, were men of color. They included Raja Jaja, the black member of the Powerbluffs, and Salami Swami. Nonetheless, Bliss is the first PowerPuff Girls character who's not only a woman of color, but one who helps save the day. Following the premiere, a handful of fans have given the addition of Bliss their praise.
But valid criticisms and frustrations about Bliss and her backstory have also been pointed out. As Izetta Nicole at Black Nerd Problems wrote, Bliss embodies unfortunate stereotypes like the "angry black girl" (due to her uncontrollable emotions). While some Twitter users praised Bliss' curvier figure, others feel she's hyper-sexualized. Further, arguments suggest Bliss was thrown into the story inorganically and unfairly.
In the end of Power of Four's premiere episode, Professor Utonium and the PowerPuff Girls watch Bliss as she jets out into space to rearrange planets that have been knocked out of orbit. Here's to hoping Bliss not only makes the return she deserves (proving disappointed fans wrong about her anticipated, short-lived presence), but that she continues to actually be a truly extraordinary and unique force in the show's universe.