Adventure Time’s Great New Opportunity to Introduce More People of Color

Recently, the popular kids show Adventure Time dropped a bomb on us: something that could forever change the course of the show, and which could also present the writers the opportunity to add more people of color to their cast. Now, when I say more people of color, what I actually mean is any people of color. One of the biggest flaws in this relatively progressive and inclusive kids’ show is that, because Finn is the last human and is white, we have had no opportunity for people of color to be introduced.

adventure-time-2But recently the writers of Adventure Time have created more opportunities for us to see more human characters, which by extension gives the writers the potential to introduce more people of color.

Spoilers for recent episodes of Adventure Time below the cut.

tumblr_m9q1tuUX7F1qa6zaho1_500Because Finn is the last human, Adventure Time suffers from a lack of racial diversity that seems to be unfixable. Worse still, we can see that certain languages and practices from other human cultures survived, but the nasty implication of course is that the people did not. For example, Lady Rainicorn speaks Korean, but no humans from Korea exist anymore. In Season 2, Finn and Jake briefly mention how they attended Lumpy Space Princess’s quinceañera, which is a celebration of a young woman’s transition from childhood to womanhood and has its origins in Latin America. But again, no humans from Latin America exist anymore. So it seems that certain celebrations and languages of people of color survived, but sadly they did not.

The lack of people of color is a common problem in many dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories. This harmful, and often unintentional, implication is that while white people survived, no people of color did. With Adventure Time, this implication is a little less harsh since Finn is the last human—the show openly states that every other human is dead. So, though Finn being white still carries some of this negative implication, since he is literally the last human ever the blow is somewhat lessened. That doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t still problematic.

S5_E48_-_Betty_meets_Simon's_friendHowever, recently Adventure Time has been expanding its universe in such a way that could include more humans. A recent episode simply titled “Betty” introduced the show to the concept of time travel, and allowed the Ice King’s girlfriend, Betty, to enter the Land of Ooo—making Finn no longer the last human. In the most recent episode of Adventure Time it was revealed, to the shock of everyone watching, that Finn’s human father is still alive. Sadly, Betty, like Finn, is also white, and it’s more than likely that Finn’s human father will be white as well. So it seems this could start to push Adventure Time more toward being problematic because of the lack of people of color. But the fact that the writers are introducing more human characters also has potential. If Finn’s human father is alive, then maybe more humans have survived as well. Which would give the writers an opportunity to introduce characters of color. Maybe Finn could end up getting a friend or a girlfriend who is a person of color who could then be incorporated as a regular character, the same way that characters like Marceline and Flame Princess were.

Introducing more human characters has some great potential if the writers seize it. If they don’t, the show could fall into the unintentionally racist folly that so many other post-apocalyptic shows have. Adventure Time is such a great show that I would hate to see it fall into this trap, so I choose to hope for the best.

pic via rule63rules

pic via rule63rules