In the last month, I had fallen quite ill. Relatively close to death, I did my best to keep what I watched positive and joyful, as life was heavy enough for me. I had flirted with watching Steven Universe before (huge Adventure Time fan and know Steven’s creator, Rebecca Sugar came from that show), but I found myself investing more and more time while I was under-the-weather. When all was said and done, I found myself very smitten with the show. Not only is Steven Universe charming and funny and scientifically creative as hell (up there with Rick and Morty), it is also incredibly intelligent and progressive and deals with issues that most cartoons wouldn’t get close to. So I kind of believe the genuine charm of Steven Universe helped me get better, so now I have to ask the few who don’t watch it, why aren’t you watching Steven Universe?
Too Cute For You?
Do not let the cute, pastel aesthetic of the show scare you off. On the surface you may think it is some uber-cute cartoon aimed solely at children but that could not be further from the truth. Steven Universe can have you cheering at one moment and weeping the next. Everything from death to same sex relationships to the idea of a nuclear family and how that can mean different things to different people are addressed. There has never been a cartoon this progressive outside of Adventure Time, straight up. Also huge shoutout to Rebecca Sugar. First female creator to have a show on Cartoon Network and the show is straight up kicking butt and taking names. Huzzah to that!
And get to the second or third episode and you will start seeing the cute is there to kind of throw people off. Yes, it is cute as hell, but it also mines some very brave, very dark, VERY mature themes.
Like I said, do not let the pastel visage fool you.
Brave TV Disguised as Kid TV!
There are exchanges between characters on this show that feel SO authentic, you forget you are watching a cartoon. In one case, Steven’s kind of girlfriend, Connie, talks about how insecure she is being with Steven because his world is so full of magic and she is so…..not. The way he justifies being with her and why he finds joy in her is more mature and well-written than exchanges you see between adults in modern film.
Creator Rebecca Sugar pulls no punches and as sweet as the world she created is (keep Beach City weird!), it is authentic and gets dark and has some genuine issues we can ALL relate to thrown in the mix.
Best Cartoon Character Development of Any Show Ever!
With 90% of cartoons, the characters you meet in the first moments of the first episode are the same characters you know by the end of the show. That is not how Steven Universe works. These characters have ACTUAL CHARACTER ARCS that reveal them as flawed people who feel real things and sometimes act foolhardy as a result of that.
Without spoiling anything at all, just seeing how deep and conflicted the character Pearl is on the show as opposed to the ideal, perfect person when you first meet her is profound. Hell, this show has better character development than most TV shows with actual actors.
You Are Anti-Cartoon? Bah!
Fine, I know some people who mistakenly assume cartoons are only for kids and honestly, there is nothing we can do for that demographic. You simply think you outgrew cartoons and the end result is you watch crappy, single camera sitcoms, blissfully unaware that one of the best shows out there right now features animated characters and is on Cartoon Network. Frankly, that is your loss.
And I haven’t even mentioned the music yet (though there are tastes of it in above videos), which is born from the Heavens themselves.
Check out Steven Universe. You WILL thank me later!