Jan. 26th, 2016

shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
Just finished uncontrollably binge-watching an adorable animated show on Cartoon Network, and I wanted to share it with everybody!

The show is called Steven Universe and is about a boy named Steven, who lives with his three badass adopted space alien moms (called “crystal gems”: Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl) in a beach house. (You can listen to the theme song here on Youtube.)

Steven’s biological mother was also an alien, but his dad was a normal human, which makes Steven half-gem, half-human. Corrupted gem monsters are constantly attacking them or causing chaos in their town of Beach City, so everyone’s hands are full protecting Steven (and earth!) from evil creatures and discovering if Steven has powers like his biological mom.

Steven, our protagonist, is a relentlessly positive sweetie pie who fully embraces his femininity and always encourages everyone around him. But the supporting cast easily hold their own. Living with Steven are three characters who seem like types at first but are slowly revealed to be very complex individuals: Garnet is the mysterious badass of the group, Amethyst is the fun but reckless one, and Pearl is the detail-oriented worrier. As the show progresses, we learn more about the residents of Beach City and gem culture on their Homeworld, which our crystal gems have chosen to leave.

Oh, and did I mention that the show is created by a woman (Rebecca Sugar), the first such show on Cartoon Network, and the majority of the cast are female characters of color? Well, technically the gems don’t have bodies because they’re gems, but all except Steven present as female and use female pronouns, and I think all the gems and many of the Beach City residents are voiced by female actors of color.

Not only this, but while being funny and entertaining, the show itself is also positive about bodies of all different shapes and sizes (and numbers of limbs), strongly values LGBTQ relationships and polyamory, gives positive examples of men valuing women’s ideas and interests, explores the problems with racism and class systems, values fandom, points out how much fun subtext is, reveals the power of music, and above all values love.

Speaking of love, I haven’t even mentioned fusions yet, which are possibly the best part of the show. Fusions happen when two gems meld together into one bigger gem that combines their personalities and strengths. But in order to fuse, the two gems first have to agree and dance together…which is always done in a very sexy way.

These fusions-as-sex-metaphors are handled so brilliantly, allowing a huge amount of shipping moments and revealing that there are at least two canonical lesbian couples on the show and probably many more. Believe it or not, parts of this cartoon show have tragically even been censored in different countries (including the UK) for the same-sex sensuality of the fusion dances. The issues of “forced fusions” and one gem “tricking” another gem into fusing come up later and are handled very well.

So if you’re looking for something to watch, I hope you consider supporting this very special animated show (one option to buy the episodes is on Youtube here but there are other places depending on your country). So far there are 2 seasons of episodes at 11 minutes an episode—short and breezy!

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