I'm tired of it: "Fans" complaining about The Acolyte just don't understand the show

The Acolyte is a show that dares to be different, and for that, I'm eternally grateful.
Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) in Lucasfilm's Star Wars THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) in Lucasfilm's Star Wars THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Alright, folks, gather 'round because it's time to set the record straight on the latest Star Wars gem, The Acolyte.

Forbes' Erik Kain's recent critique of the show, as well as having friends who are very much not enjoying the series, was the catalyst to me saying enough and sitting down to just... scribble all of this. No, this isn't just me defending the series. It actually feels like I have to defend my passion for the franchise in its current state - which is just ridiculous to me. It breaks my heart that the franchise that helped sci-fi develop to what it is now, the franchise that has us nerds all united, is also the one franchise with the most toxic fanbase ever seen. It shouldn't be like that.

As the show might have left some of you scratching your heads, wondering if we’re watching the same show, fear not! I'm here to passionately defend The Acolyte and celebrate its diversity, its bold exploration of the Jedi Order’s flaws, and its refreshing take on the Star Wars universe.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

SPOILER WARNING: Please read at your own risk as I'll be talking about the show as a whole so far.

(L): Osha (Amandla Stenberg) in a scene from Lucasfilm's STAR WARS: THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Diversity: The Galactic Mosaic

Let's go ahead and rip the bandaid and talk about diversity. In his review of the show, Kain suggests that The Acolyte is pushing an agenda by being “very, very diverse.” Well, here’s a newsflash: diversity isn’t an agenda; it’s a reflection of our beautifully varied galaxy, both fictional and real. Do you seriously mean to tell me that everyone in that damn galaxy is a straight, white male? Do you really think the franchise has "become woke" simply because there are women and LGTBQ+ folks in lead roles for new Star Wars stories? Just how thick-headed do you have to be to ignore the fact that even during the original trilogy, there was diversity in the cast already? The Star Wars universe has always had a vast, sprawling cosmos filled with countless species, cultures, and, yes, people of different backgrounds. By simply showing this diversity more prominently, The Acolyte is not just ticking boxes - it’s celebrating the true essence of a galaxy far, far away like Star Wars has always done.

Seeing characters from different racial and cultural backgrounds isn’t just refreshing - it’s necessary. Star Wars isn't just mirroring the diversity of its fanbase, it's always showing you what we'd find to be true if the chance to go to other galaxies and worlds ever popped up for us: alien species and diverse humanoids. Not to mention that it's 2024, and we're living in a world where representation matters more than ever. When young viewers see themselves reflected in their heroes, it’s powerful. The Acolyte achieves this beautifully, proving that anyone can wield a lightsaber or challenge the status quo of the Jedi Order.

And let’s not forget: Star Wars has always been about fighting oppression and embracing unity. Diversity is not a modern agenda - it’s the very core of what Star Wars stands for.

(L-R, front row): Yord Fandar (Charlie Barnett), Jedi Padawan Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen) and Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) in Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Jedi Order: The Entitled and the Flawed

Now, onto the Jedi Order. Among friends of mine who are Jedi fans for life, the major complaint is the show depicting the Jedi as flawed and entitled. To this, I say: no, duh, have you not seen the prequels?!

The Jedi Order has been largely portrayed as the noble protectors of the galaxy, but The Acolyte dares to continue to peel back the layers that started to be shed by the prequels, showing the imperfections of the Jedi. It’s not just done for the sake of being bold, but it's something that continues to add depth and complexity to the narrative. By showcasing the arrogance and entitlement within the Jedi ranks, The Acolyte offers a new angle and perspective into the problems the Jedi faced during their existence, it serves as a reminder that even the most revered institutions can become complacent and misguided. This exploration of the Jedi’s flaws isn’t a critique - it’s an opportunity for growth and introspection. It’s about time we see our heroes as multidimensional beings, capable of making mistakes and learning from them. This narrative choice breathes new life into the Star Wars saga, making it more relatable and human.

How do you think the Dark Side is a thing if the Jedi are so perfect? Fallen Jedi (and eventually Sith) make their way to the Dark Side being aided by the complications of their own Order. Attachments are forbidden, children are taken from their parents at an early age, and those same children are taken to missions they could die in (just like Jecki did). Seeing this side of the Jedi is imperative for the franchise and for the sake of lore.

If you can't get past your Jedi being shown as not perfect, don't ruin things for those of us who have been waiting for a story like this.

Star Wars: The Acolyte Episode 3 "Destiny." Mother Aniseya (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Mother Koril (Margarita Levieva). Image credit: StarWars.com /

A New Era of Storytelling

Kain, as well as other viewers, argues that The Acolyte doesn’t bring anything new to the table, suggesting it could easily fit into any era of the Star Wars timeline. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the fresh setting of the High Republic.

We’ve been stuck in the Skywalker saga for decades, and while we love it, I am so tired of hearing that family name. It is exhilarating to explore a different time. The High Republic era, with its peace and prosperity teetering on the edge of chaos, provides a rich backdrop for storytelling and drama. The Acolyte dives into this unexplored territory, offering new characters, new conflicts, and new mysteries. It’s not about flashy lightsaber duels (though we love those, and The Acolyte does have some pretty cool altercations) - it’s about the intrigue, the tension, and the subtle power struggles that set the stage for future turmoil. This series is a slow burn, building a narrative that’s both captivating and thought-provoking.

It’s a bold departure from the familiar, and that’s what makes it exciting.

The Critics vs. The Fans

Kain points out the divide between critics and fans on platforms like Rotten Tomatoes. While it’s true that opinions vary, it’s essential to recognize the evolving nature of fandom. Star Wars has always sparked passionate debates - remember the prequels? The key is to embrace these differing perspectives and understand that art is subjective. What resonates with one person might not with another, and that’s perfectly okay. A lot of folks seem to forget that, and instead of respecting the show for what it is and for fans who do enjoy it, there are a lot of name-calling and death threats flying in every direction: towards the cast, the showrunner, and even female writers covering the show (or franchise as a whole). Why? Why must this be a thing in a franchise that teaches that peace comes from within, that balance must exist? Do folks not understand what Star Wars even is about anymore?

Not to mention that dismissing The Acolyte as mediocre undermines the hard work and creativity poured into it, and that's just not okay.

Leslie Headland has crafted a series that challenges conventions and dares to be different. It’s a story that asks us to question our heroes and reconsider our perceptions. And let’s not forget the best stories are the ones that spark discussion and debate. Ironically, The Acolyte does just that, proving it’s far from mediocre.

Scene from Lucasfilm's STAR WARS: THE ACOLYTE, season one, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

The Acolyte is a breath of fresh air in the Star Wars universe. Its commitment to diversity, its unflinching look at the flaws of the Jedi Order, and its bold new setting make it a standout addition to the franchise. It’s a series that challenges us, engages us, and reminds us why we fell in love with Star Wars in the first place.

So, to Forbes' Erik Kain and the friends and critics who just don’t get it, I say: The Force is strong with The Acolyte.

It’s a show that dares to be different, and for that, I'm eternally grateful. It’s time to embrace this new chapter in the Star Wars saga, with all its imperfections and brilliance.

May the Force be with you, always, no matter who you are.

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