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[personal profile] chuckro
We are the Crystal Gems
We'll always save the day
And if you think we can't
We'll always find a way
That's why the people of this world believe in
Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, and Steven!

So, my initial review was going to be this: I’ve had several people recommend Steven Universe to me, and though it doesn’t appear to be in Netflix or Amazon currently, Cartoon Network does have a bunch of unlocked episodes on their website—specifically, three (1.7, 1.30, and 2.2) that don’t require logging in via your TV provider. So I watched those to get a sense of the series. It was…cute? I guess? I can see why people like it, but I don’t think I’m impressed enough by either the mythology or the wit to seek out DVD sets for it.

But then it occurred to me that ARR and I could probably watch it together, so I downloaded Season 1 and starting watching it with him. He doesn’t totally get it, but he’s clearly entertained.

I wonder how much the creators intended for kids watching this show to understand or appreciate the backstory / worldbuilding. There are whole episodes that revolve around how the gems’ biology/society/powers work, but compressed into the plot of an 11-minute short. I mean, it’s pretty clear that they had a lot of the worldbuilding worked out before they got far into the first season, but dribbled it out very carefully. It wasn’t until late in the season that we learned—in a roundabout way—that the gems were rebels who betrayed their people to defend Earth. The fact that Garnet is a fusion (explaining why she has two gems and is more powerful than anyone else) is the big season-end twist.

Pearl’s worried shout of, “Steven!” might as well be her catchphrase. And certainly helps define her role in the “my three moms” drama, which is takes more than half the season before Garnet really fits into. Pearl is the serious, overbearing one, Amethyst is the fun one, and Garnet is mostly just aloof and taciturn until we start seeing her depths.

Is the Stevonnie fusion the first explicitly genderqueer character in a kid's cartoon? It's very cute that they can cheat and use “they” as a pronoun, because Stevonnie is arguably both one and two people.

Steven’s age and capabilities are often wildly uneven. Is he a very precocious six-year-old? Is he a very sheltered twelve-year-old? He’s allowed to roam the town by himself and seems very capable, but also does some excessively childish things. The fact that neither Greg nor the gems really know what they're doing in terms of parenting (both they're all clearly trying very hard, which helps) mitigates the absurdity here.

Overall: Yeah, this is very cute. And it's on the list of things I'm perfectly happy for ARR and I to watch together. Season 2 is likely to get added to my list.


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