I can only speak for myself, and for me personally the cartoon certainly has a lot to do with it. I view the POP show as being a true extension of the original cartoon. I always enjoyed She-Ra and Hordak on their own, but I found myself getting extra excited when Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Orko, and others made guest appearances. The POP storyline simply expands upon the already existing MOTU mythology. It adds more diverse characters, relationships, and elements. Yes, the majority of heroic characters are female, but so what? Did you skip Teela and Evil Lyn as a kid, because their characters were female? The only thing that I disliked as a kid was the fact that the POP toys didn't fit with the MOTU figures. Classics has finally fixed that issue.
I will add that as a kid, the only POP figures I had were She-Ra and Bow. In Classics I'll have them all.