Disclaimer: This post is going to be mainly me discussing Steven Universe, so if you want to watch the series with no spoilers at all then go do that, you don’t want to be here.
Sometimes there are tv shows that come along that just change the way things in that genre completely, when it came to cartoons I’d say that Adventure Time was the first to change the cartoon genre of this generation. It was a cartoon that was both playful and fun on the surface, but was packed full of meaning and messaging that was both helpful to adults and children alike. It was, and still is a cartoon that is meant to be for everyone.
And so from Adventure Time, all the stars aligned and new creator with an idea so brillant was born.
Steven Universe was created by Rebecca Sugar, an artist working on Adventure Time who ended up leaving to work on her own TV show, Steven Universe. She is officially the first female cartoon creator in history according to this wiki article I’m skimming. Also she’s only 3 years older then me, she makes me feel like I could create something amazing.
And parts of me tweak out on the absolute unfairness of this fact, but at the same time at least it’s happening now, and I can’t think of anyone worthier of carrying the meaningful catoon torch like Rebecca Sugar.
Steven Universe is more then just a cartoon to me, it’s a friend. I started watching it on the week of the inevitable breakup, and even since then I’ve learnt so much from this show.
So the main premise of the show is that there is an alien race of space rocks called Gems, they are literally gemstones that project a light form of their choice, for this reason all the Gems are female as they don’t reproduce, they are grown in large groups. Anyway, the Gems essentially want to conquer everywhere so they had planned to use the Earth as a way to grow more Gems and deplete the worlds resources thus destroying the planet. A couple of Gems, the main one being Rose Quartz decide to try and save the planet, and they succeed for a while. Rose ends up meeting a human named Greg Universe and decide to have a child. In order for the child to exist it meant that Rose had to give up her gem and form in order for the child to exist.
And that’s who Steven Universe is half human, but also half Rose Quartz, he is essentially his mum.
This cartoon does not patronise the kids with perfect characters and unrealistic situations, already this show starts of with a pretty intense theme. And as much as it’s an incredibly colourful and all round beautiful show, it does an excellent job at confronting you with situations that make you think, without feeling afraid of it.
I mean, just look at these main character designs;
How’s this for showing every body type? And it’s not just like this for the main characters either;
This is a bit of the cast of the Beach City town people. Rebecca Sugar goes above and beyond to show you as many different people as she can, because this how real life is. She doesn’t throw these characters in your face either, she portrays them as normal people doing their own thing in the town.
Also I love that there are a couple of short Gems, it’s the only show that brings up the concept of feeling weak because of being small.
Not only that it tackles just about every subject, and in a non preachy way. All of the main characters have their issues, sometimes they even do truly shitty things, but it’s always put into the context of that character being in pain or there being a reason of why they acted like that.
This show also does a beautiful job at explaining the concept of love and relationships. The fact that Gems can fuse together in order to create another person thats stronger then both of them, is a pretty decent metaphor for sex and relationships. They show how fusion can be corrupted, and how people can be manipulated into doing it when they don’t want.
I’ve never seen a cartoon bring up the topic of consent before, but this topic gets brung up a few times throughout the series, just to concrete the fact that No means No in any circumstance.
And of course being a show this amazing and emotionally mature, it’s been banned a lot, mainly in Australia. Because the Gems are all female its safe to assume that there are lesbian relationships in it. In fact, one of the main characters, Garnet, is a fusion of Sapphire and Ruby, and because of how powerful their love is, Garnet has the ability to be Garnet all the time, whereas with every other Gem Fusion they eventually need to split apart or else they come corrupt and dangerous to be together.
I can’t think of a stronger metaphor for love then that.
I love the whole concept of Garnet. I love how strong she is because the relationship is so strong. I love her design, her huge hips, her strong black woman vibe. She is the ultimate picture of strength, with all the sexiness because of her feminimity. I think showing a female character like that is incredibly hard to do without turning the character into an overly sexualised joke. This show celebrates the female form in my opinion.
This show isn’t based on lesbian relationships though, it just chooses to show all forms of relationships, straight and homosexual respectively.
Anyway, there’s so much more I coud say about Steven, and there might be more posts along the lines so expand more on it.
But you should do yourself a favour and watch this show. Everything about it is good and relevant.
Also it’s inspired some art out of me, here’s one of mine;
Including the music which is just catchy on so many levels.
This song mainly, it’s one I go back to whenever I feel like everything is getting too much.