‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’: Netflix Series Tones Down Sexism of Sokka From Animated Original

“I feel like there were a lot of moments in the original show that were iffy,” says Kiawentiio, who plays waterbending heroine Katara

Ian Ousley as Sokka in "Avatar: The Last Airbender"
Ian Ousley as Sokka in "Avatar: The Last Airbender" (CREDIT: Robert Falconer/Netflix)

Kiawentiio, who stars as the waterbending heroine Katara in Netflix’s live-action “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” said that Sokka, the brother of her character, won’t be as “sexist” as he was in the original series that ran on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008.

“I feel like we … took out the element of how sexist [Sokka] was. I feel like there were a lot of moments in the original show that were iffy,” the “Beans” actress told EW in an interview published Monday.

She’s referring to instances such as Sokka saying, “Girls are better at fixing pants than guys, and guys are better at hunting and fighting and stuff like that. It’s just the natural order of things.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Ian Ousley as Sokka, Kiawentiio as Katara
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” stars Ian Ousley as Sokka, Kiawentiio as Katara (CREDIT: Netflix)

Ian Ousley, the “Thirteen Reasons Why” actor who’s been cast as the water tribe warrior in question agreed: “There are things that were redirected just because it might play a little differently [in live-action].” 

“I wanted to make sure that Sokka is funny,” Ousley said, adding “There’s more weight with realism in every way [in the live-action version].”

Among the more serious elements of the series is more time given to the loss of the siblings’ parents and what it means for them. In the animated series, the mother is dead and their father is away fighting in the war.

“[Sokka] is dealing with what it means to not have his father and try to maybe lead when you’re not fully capable,” Ousley said. 

“I do feel like it’s a recurring theme,” Kiawentiio stated. “It’s such a big part of their lives.”

Showrunner Albert Kim recalled bonding with his daughter over watching the original series.

“I thought she was going to have trouble understanding the story, but pretty soon the explanations fell by the wayside,” Kim said. “I was just watching alongside her, just pulled into this incredible world… It was the memories I had with my daughter that really sold me on the idea of doing this.”

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino developed the live-action adaptation for Netflix for two years before walking away, leaving Kim to helm the show on his own.


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