Trying to be a bird
Yeah, a near-Death experience that Wanda ultimately survives, and maybe even a bit of sympathy/explanation on the part of Thessaly, seem like changes one could make to deliver the message more subtly.
Sure. But the thing is, we have plenty of media where the death of someone of Group X helps teach the survivor (usually a white cishet protagonist) something important about the world and inspires them to change to be better. And it is a powerful sequence in the comics, as is Barbie's reaction. I just think that we have lots of stories where the dead lesbian/gay/trans/black/asian/othered-person inspired this kind of reflection and character growth and maybe we have room now for stories where that person doesn't have to be dead for this to happen.Barbie visiting Wanda's awful relatives for her funeral and seeing how horrible they continue to be even after her death is a powerful sequence, which wouldn't work the same way if Wanda was there.
One of the themes of Sandman is how awful, horrible things happen and you just have to change in response to them and carry on. Barbie's reaction to Wanda's death is the start of an example of that -- and it's later reflected in how Morpheus chooses to deal with the death of Orpheus. It's something central to the overall narrative, so won't be easy to change even though it looks like it should be so when looked at in isolation.
Given how the stories themselves varied in time, there's nothing stopping some of them from being in the 90s, come to think, although I think the main thrust of the "A plot" should be brought forward to today.You know, with the 90s pop culture references all around that Sandman has, I think it would be cool if the series WAS set in the 90s (and original times, of course), instead of recent times.