Adventure Time: Fionna is Crushed

BLBI was excited to finally get a new episode Adventure Time with my favorite genderbent fanfiction females, Ice King’s Fionna and Cake. I was ecstatic when I heard Marshall Lee the Vampire King would finally speak (voiced by Donald Glover). As the episode went on I became less and less happy until I was just agitated, especially with Slime Princess’s suggestion of “What if there was a little more romance in the story?”Damn it Adventure Time, didn’t we already go over this?

At first the Ice King was telling a convoluted plotless story where Fionna and Cake were fighting Dr. Prince and eating spaghetti. Super cool fun guy Ice King defeats Dr. Prince and becomes Fionna’s bestest and most closest friend. They then jump on Cake’s back and have a space adventure. Silly as it was, I would have liked to see what happened in Ice Kings fanfiction. It was almost if the trio were going to be best buddies that have adventures. Can’t show people of different genders (if the protagonist is female) being just friends, now can we?

Marceline floats in and takes over, spinning her own tale featuring her fanfiction genderbent counterpart Marshall Lee. I found it odd that this would be the story Marceline would tell. Marshall Lee messes with Fionna and pulls pranks and jokes with her, much like Marceline does with Finn. My question is, why did it have to have romantic? In the episode where Marceline is first messing with Finn the misunderstandings involved possible slaughtering and other horrible acts such as strangling pixies, all of which turned out to be not actually evil. Why is Fionna’s story always about crushes? Fionna’s main objective is the same as Finn’s, to be a hero/ine and save the day. Yet both episodes featuring her so far have revolved around romance. Why is it that any cartoon with a female protagonist has to involve some sort of love-based situation?

Remember when Fionna said “I think the reason I got all these guy friends and no boyfriend is because I don’t really wanna date any of ’em. I don’t need to feel like I’m waiting to be noticed. I know who I am and I’ll know what I want if and when it ever comes along.” Not every girl wants to have a boyfriend (or girlfriend) and even if they do that doesn’t mean that their entire existence has to be based around this “who will she end up with?” mentality. It’s as if the writers don’t think Fionna can carry an entire episode with only Cake by her side.

Now perhaps I am being too hard on Adventure Time. The writers might have even understood this well-known trope. Perhaps in their own way they were trying to say that Fionna is also sick and tired of everyone wondering who she will end up with. However this was thoroughly covered in “Fionna and Cake” and did not need to be said again.

The only difference between “Bad Little Boy” and “Fionna and Cake” that I could see was that instead of Prince Gumball, Marshall Lee was the possible love interest, and boy was that creepy. Marshall Lee’s song “Good Little Girl” was also kind of disturbing. In the song he admits to being over 1,000 years old, much like his female counterpart Marceline. If Fionna is the same age as Finn that means she is fourteen. Marshall Lee is way too old to be even bringing up the subject of romance, especially with such a young girl.

Now to be fair Finn does have some romance-based episodes. Although Finn has never ever had a crush on Marceline, his crush on Princess Bubblegum and his budding relationship with Flame Princess is well documented. A few episodes have been primarily about these relationships. But while the whole “who deserves Finn’s love more?” Princess Bubblegum versus Flame Princess debate rages on, the majority of his episodes are left without even a hint of romance. The best part of Fionna’s episode was at the very end where she yells at Marshall Lee while he is fake dying.

I wish that for at least one episode featuring Fionna she and Cake would be fighting, or going on a quest, or throwing a dance party; really anything than it being about a boy whom she may or may not like. I want the focus to be on her, her fighting skills, her friendships, and her awesomeness. I want to see Fionna be the heroine she is. Stop making her share the spotlight with these boys. Fionna deserves better.

At least it ended with Fionna punching out Marshall Lee. That was pretty mathematical.

14 thoughts on “Adventure Time: Fionna is Crushed

  1. I love that you did a review of this episode, but I think you’re pretty harsh. You see, I knew immediately after starting the episode that it would be my new favorite, and now it is! I should mention that maybe I’m a little biased, because I eat up gender-swapped anything, and thus absolutely love Fiona and Cake. I disagree with you in that I don’t think this episode is so much about romance as about romantic confusion. Fiona wonders what the heck Marshall Lee is trying to do, and Marshall Lee is confused about how Fiona is responding to his antics, ultimately resulting in his ill-conceived little trick at the end. In the end we still don’t know what either of them was hoping for, which I think helps to keep the audience on it’s toes. I loved that brief scene with Fiona throwing knives for almost no reason, and one goes through Bubblegum’s hair and no one thinks much of it. And gender-swapped Marceline! We’d all been drooling over that idea. And….. and….. Marshall Lee rapping! Uh…Okay, I think I started fanboying out a little there. Done now. Anyway, guess the only thing I felt a little uncomfortable with in this episode was Cake’s weird little dance, but honestly Jake’s butt shows up so much that it’s practically a character in itself, so why can’t Cake shake hers a little? What do you think?

    Fiona and Cake seem to be a reappearing theme in this season, I hope they do something big with them in the end, like having them come to life!

    • I may have come off as a little harsh on the poor Adventure Time writers. It was obvious that many fans (myself included) wanted to see a Marshall Lee based episode after the vocal snub in the first episode he appeared in. My problem is that romance, including romantic confusion, is such a cop out. Making a girl confused about boys is an easy trope and has been used so much in television shows that its almost an inside joke. I love Marshall Lee and I didn’t hate this episode, but I was disappointed that such a talented bunch of writers couldn’t think of anything for Fionna and Marshall Lee to do than have a weird love thing. They could have just sang a song or slayed a monster or sipped tea. And I loved Cake’s booty dance, more booty dancing less romantic tension!

  2. I agree with what you said in your article, it’s a very antiquated mentality that a woman’s life must revolve around a man, because her ultimate life goal is to be someone’s wife, therefore, in a show with a female protagonist, there must be a man for her to end up with and its ends up taking over the entire plot. This is what totally ruined the Legend of Korra, and now it has ruined Fionna. It seems to me that people are too distracted by Donald Glover’s performance and Lee’s allure to notice how very flawed and problematic this episode was. Do you think it is a problem with (male) writers who think all women want is romance? Or is it a problem with teenage girls, a fan base that runs on hormones (I am not saying the audience is actually like that, though it does seem like the lowest common denominator for girls). Aside from that, maybe it would be interesting if you talked more about the character of Marshall Lee and the typical bad-boy as presented here and compare that to his portrayal in Lydia Fama’s fan-short, Fionna’s Fright. And even though Marceline is the one telling the story in the cartoon, it’s really the writers behind the episode that chose to tell a flawed story.

    • It may be that the male writers just don’t know what to do with a female version of Finn. Genderswapping, while interesting, is also complicated. The two characters have to remain separate characters and it may be difficult for the writers to understand just what a teenage female hero would do. They don’t want Fionna to be just Finn in a skirt, but they still want her to be strong. It’s a fine line that they are having obvious trouble with. Based on what I have seen on television and other forms of media, many writers, even female writers, have no idea how to portray a believable heroine. Marshall Lee would be an interesting study and I will take that into consideration for my next post. Thanks for reading!

  3. the episodes with fionna are supposed to be romantic because the are only part of the ice kings imagination. The ice king wants to marry a princess so the only thing he thinks about is love and romance. The ice kings never thinks about being a hero so why would he make his stories completely about a hero?

    • That is a good point, the Ice King is a romantic. However, the story was quickly turned over to Marcelline in this episode. So it is Marcelline’s imagination that is creating the story. I thought it was a bit out of character for her. Also the story Ice King was telling in the beginning of the episode though convoluted, didn’t seem to be moving in that direction. It appeared that he just wanted to be friends and have fantastic adventures with Fionna and Cake, just like he wants to be best buddies with Finn and Jake. I don’t think his interest in Fionna is love based, because Fionna is still under eighteen. Citing from the episode “Mortal Recoil” when Princess Bubblegum turned thirteen, the Ice King made it clear that he isn’t romantically interested in anyone that young. Thanks for the comment!

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  5. Oh come on, people!
    Fionna’s a GIRL. It’s so very very very common for love issues to come into the picture…
    Guys (which is what Finn is) don’t really roll around with romance much..

    Look at Naruto for goodness’ sake! It’s shounen… and yet, it still features the girls (namely Sakura and Hinata) in confused want and heart-swelling curiosity over guys (Namely Sasuke and Naruto)…

    I wonder if you ever remember what it was like when you were 14… because for MOST girls, there WOULD BE some obsessive attraction with a special someone (or more than one person, for that matter)…

    It’s not wrong of the writers…

    Anyway, if you’re immortal, age won’t matter…
    Fionna’s the only mortal in all of Ooo and it’s some sort of right to … I dunno… be with someone who LOOKS almost her age.

    Is it REALLY that big a deal if a thousand year old member of the undead would want to flirt with her?
    Nope.
    She’s mature enough…
    And it’s not like Marshall Lee is old-looking or grotty or whatever
    Plus, she’s in mathematical physical form… wow ❤

    Think about it… Take Inuyasha for example… he's not human and SOOOO much older than Kagome… they still kissed… and got together…
    Good gosh… even Twilight's Edward and Bella…

    The writers are very smart to be responding to this major demographic of fangirls.
    You might think it's the same version of the lovey-dovies, but people who frequent in sectors like these can identify the difference.

    Don't lose heart… They'll focus on Fionna herself for sure… it's all in good time…

  6. Thanks for your review! I have to say I’ve been pretty disappointed in the Fionna + Cake episodes. Granted that the land of Aaa is suppose to be “fan-fiction” for the original characters- and it is interesting to see how the original characters (Ice King, Marceline) use Fionna + Cake + etc, to workout their internal conflicts or add segments of their own lives into their tales (which is what people often to with fan-fiction). Which is what stops me from liking Fionna or Cake or any of the other characters, because they’re flat stock characters that are being used to express the “actual characters” emotions- and I’d have to say I agree with how its been irritating to see Fionna be used as a trope for romantic relationships- so far her blushing and awkward romantic gestures are two for two in both episodes.

    But then we have to remember that basically neither Fionna or Cake are true reflections of Finn and Jake because their characteristics have been built by either the Ice King or Marceline.

    On a side note- I find Fionna’s character design to be bothersome. Her body shape, full chest and the cut of her outfit makes her seem at least 16, whereas Finn’s age is about 13 to me- which I think is a contributing factor as to why the spin-off characters aren’t really on par with each other. Anyway, that concludes my rant.

  7. I think I should come back to this discussion to mention that I recently read the Fiona & Cake comics, thinking that they would redeem them as characters. It doesn’t. Hardly a page in the book does not feature romance as a theme. What a shame.

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