It goes without saying that no form of media can be perfect, and I'll fully admit a lot of the stuff I love is riddled with problems. When I see a problem, I'll usually internally acknowledge it, make note to warn others who plan on checking it out about it, and go about my business. It's when a work is praised to the heavens as a progressive flawless masterpiece, that I tend to be a harsher critic. My expectations are higher, and the problems that others have either overlooked or refuse to warn about become more apparent.
The Sailor Moon anime is a prime example of this. It's a show about women, made for women, and what many women see as a source of empowerment and feminism. I don't intend on arguing otherwise--empowerment is such a highly subjective topic to begin, and I don't wish to take that away from others. I get why others may be reluctant to acknowledge of the show's problems and feel defensive of it.
Insert another disclaimer about values dissonance etc etc.
On to the episode itself. Well, here's another thing: the Sailor Moon anime (and especially its fanbase) prides itself in being a queer-friendly series that shows there's no wrong way to be a girl. This episode directly contradicts both sentiments.
Makoto, formerly the character who showcased you can be the tough muscle as well as one who enjoys hobbies such as cooking and cleaning, reveals that her cooking hobby doesn't actually come out of genuine interest in it.
It's a common trope in fiction for the tomboy to express insecurities in her femininity, tied to her concerns about her desirability as a woman to men. It's fine that Mako has this insecurity, and Usagi even assures her she's plenty feminine enough even without her talent in cooking. It's disappointing, however, that the character who's praised for her refusal to conform to gender norms, ends up having living up to gender norms as her motivation all along, rather than it simply being who she is.
What's worse is that her crush, er, admiration of Haruka (and we'll get to that in a moment) could have been an excellent opportunity to explore this subject. Haruka is written explicitly in the manga as someone who believes gender doesn't matter, and this is carried over in the anime as she pursues her interests as she pleases, and cares little about when others perceive her to be male. As such, Mako could have learned to ease her insecurities about her gender presentation from her. And, as we're never given a reason why Mako "admires" Haruka, it can be inferred by the end of the episode that may be, perhaps, what Mako admires about her.
Problem is, we're never given such a storyline. Instead, we're treated to a grand series of NO HOMOS.
Sailor Moon: all about accepting and supporting your friends for who they are.
But that's not even getting into the mother of all NO HOMOS:
See what I also mean about this also having been a wasted opportunity for Mako to learn something from Haruka, as someone she looks up to?
It's a fucking weird episode. It sets up all these problems--Mako's worrying about her being feminine enough, Mako's friends (with the exception of Ami, the saving grace of the episode) freaking out over her sexuality, Mako freaking out over the possibility that she may be attracted to a woman, and eventually concludes with, "Well guys, I learned something today. I'm not attracted to Haruka, I just admire her for some vague undefined reason. I admire someone I happen to find attractive. Still straight, don't worry!"
In conclusion, I'll take the second option: