It seems in recent years as though a dam has broken and the notion of what is “acceptable content” for a kids or YA show thankfully now has an ever-increasing flow of support. While themes of inclusivity and equality have been a staple of the genre since the early days of Children’s Television Workshop, recent examples like Steven Universe have dealt with gender identity and sexuality in ways that would likely have been vetoed by the networks even a decade ago. One show that, in many ways at least, was at the forefront of that charge is Adventure Time. While by no means perfect, it gives us numerous examples of gender equality and represents a fairly wide range of gender, sexual, and romantic identities that fall outside the heteronormative narratives that many of the genre’s examples, even the best ones, have traditionally retold ad nauseum.
Grab your friends, we’re going to very distant lands. (screengrab from Adventure Time)
While Adventure Time does this in numerous ways and through numerous characters, there is one example that is among the most direct and the most enduringly popular: Fionna and Cake. In looking not only at these characters specifically, but also more broadly at what they show us about the Ice King and toxic masculinity, we can see one of the best examples of these themes being presented in subtle and complex ways that are accessible to the target age group and, ultimately, further that tradition of inclusiveness.
I 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?
Well, my lovelies, the fourth season of Adventure Time rolled to a terrible cliffhangery close last week. But before we talk about that, let’s look at the rest of the season. There are always a few episodes in Adventure Time that edge past surrealist into annoying and just don’t do it for me, and this season was no exception—I particularly could have done without “Web Weirdos”, or a second Lemongrab episode… but actually, looking back over the episode list, AT had a lot of solid episodes this time around.
I really like the two major plot elements of this season, that is, the continuing introduction of and romance with Flame Princess and the ongoing peeks into the past of Ooo.