I’m not necessarily the best at taking my own advice. So when I said more than a year ago that everyone should be watching Steven Universe, I had intended to follow suit. With the exception of an episode here and there, I unfortunately didn’t get around to watching. In a way, I’m glad for it—I’d much rather marathon a show than wait for weekly updates. With the announcement of Cartoon Network renewing the show for another two seasons, though, dreams of watching it all at once (in the near future) were all but dashed, and I finally sat down to watch the entire series alongside my brother.
Me after catching up.
We’ve discussed a couple of Steven Universe‘s elements before, all in glowing terms. Today will be no different. As much as I want to gush over Pearl’s unmistakable queerness when it comes to her relationship with Rose Quartz, another underlying theme has caught me off guard with the subtlety and the delicacy with which it was written. Steven Universe is, of course, not the first show to tackle the subject of grief. Yet the way it’s approached in this show is so nuanced that I’m left feeling it in the pit of my stomach long after the episodes have ended.
I recently sat down and watched all the existing episodes of Steven Universe, and first of all, let me say that Rin was right: everyone should be watching this show. It follows Steven, a young boy who’s inherited his late mother’s magic Gem. He lives with his mother’s teammates, all skilled Gem-users who are raising him and helping to train him in his new powers.
Without digging deeper into word of mouth and the multitude of headcanons, the show is a fantastic subversion of gender norms, as it features a trio of diverse ladies with very different personalities and body types working together to save the world, and a little boy who looks up to these women as his ideal role models. The Crystal Gems are excellent examples of how varied a cast of women can and should be on television.
It’s probably Steven Universe’s easy rejection of societal norms that lent veracity to a rumor suggesting the Gems were even more unique than we originally thought. Recently, a post began to circulate on Tumblr asserting that show creator Rebecca Sugar had, during a Women in Animation panel at a recent convention, stated that the Gems were canonically non-binary. Continue reading →