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.
Last week, I purchased the trade paperback collection of the Marceline Gone Adrift comic series. In the vein of previous Adventure Time Presents series like Fionna and Cake and Marceline and the Scream Queens, Gone Adrift is a six-issue story with a finite beginning and end. I missed the first few issues of it when it was coming out, so when I saw it was finally out as a trade I immediately snatched it up. And while part of me enjoyed it, I was left in the long run wondering why I’m still so invested in a relationship that’s constantly hinted at and doesn’t look, at this point, like it will ever be canon.
For much the same reasons as Moe explained earlier this summer, I have kind of grown away from Adventure Time. While an eleven minute episode once a week isn’t a huge time commitment, I felt that the show had lost its idea of who its audience was and had abandoned the latter half of its “here’s a weird premise with a good message” mentality for utter absurdism and often unpleasant conclusions. Also, I’m still pissed that Finn’s arm grew back.
Because of this, I didn’t know about the Stakes miniseries, which comprises several episodes out of the still-ongoing Season 7, until after it had finished airing. Thankfully, a Bubbline blog that I still follow on Tumblr reblogged a rash of posts about it, or I’d still be in the dark. I began watching it out of loyalty to Marceline more than anything—she’s always been my favorite character—but I finished it unexpectedly excited to see what will happen next in the Land of Ooo.
Spoilers through the end of Stakes after the jump.
The Bubbline-shipping side of the internet dissolved into hoopla two weeks ago when Marceline’s voice actress appeared to confirm the fan-favorite pairing’s canonicity at a Q&A session. “Bubbline is canon!”, everyone from shipping blogs to geek journalists declared joyfully. However, to paraphrase one of The Mary Sue‘s commenters, everyone seemed to be playing fast and loose with the idea of ‘canon’. It’s nice if the creator has an extensive backstory for a character, and nicer if that backstory includes queerness, but canon means it happens in the show. Like, where cute little LGBTQ+ kids can see that not all romantic love has to be between a girl and a boy.
Anyway, frustrated with all the shenanigans, I decided to turn to fanfic, where I knew I would find people with the guts to actually include queer characters in their narratives. And in honor of the source of the drama, I’ve got a lovely Bubbline fic for you this week. Continue reading →
If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been making an effort recently to spotlight femslash fanfics. It’s a tricky business, if only because we have tremendous difficulty finding good fics of the quantity and quality that exists in m/m slash fics. As just one example, Archive of Our Own has over 7.5k fics in the Tony Stark/Steve Rogers section, the most popular of which has over 230,000 hits. If you look at the same stats for the Carol Danvers/Jessica Drew ship, a pairing with a similar dynamic (military blonde Avenger and snarky brunette Avenger with a troubled past), there are only 83 fanfics, with the most popular receiving just under 30k hits. It’s a damn shame and so we’ve set out to bring attention to the notable lady-lovin’ fanfics we’ve found.
This week’s is an Adventure Time story, entitled There’s No Spark On A Dampened Floor, by shoutoutout. It’s set after the season six episode “Sky Witch”, in which the Princess Bubblegum/Marceline relationship was so clearly romantic that it could barely be called subtext, and I was delighted to find a followup to the story.