The Best Cartoon You’re Probably Not Watching


Mom’s doing somewhat better.  She had a small stroke a couple of weeks ago, and we’re dealing with the recovery from that.  Physical therapy, new ways of doing things, and general worry have been keeping us both busy.  It’s been easier to lose myself in TV or games than to think, but I’m going to try to get back into the swing of things.

Appropriately enough, I want to share one of the television shows I’ve been using to avoid thinking lately.  Steven Universe was created by Rebecca Sugar, a former writer for the wonderfully surreal Adventure Time.  The show is about the adventures of the sweetly naive and optimistic title boy as he navigates the world and tries to figure out how to use his powers as a crystal gem.  The other crystal gems are aliens who came to earth thousands of years before, and decided to stay and protect the planet from others of their kind.  I thought it looked kind of silly from the commercials, but then I saw a couple episodes and got hooked.

For a cartoon, this is pretty sophisticated and adult stuff.  There’s romance and conflict and struggles with difficult emotions like guilt and obsession.  It’s even kind of sexy.  The gems can fuse together to create new gems; one of the main characters, Garnet, is actually a fusion of two other gems who are, quite clearly, in love (you’ll see it in the clip).  Fusion becomes a metaphor for relationships, both good and bad, as well as sex between the characters.

What’s any of this got to do with music?  Plenty, because Steven Universe is full of pretty catchy tunes.  Steven’s mother, a crystal gem named Rose Quartz, fell in love with his father, a wannabe rock star named Greg Universe.  But all the characters sing on occasion; music is usually used as a way to quickly express some of the more complicated emotions the characters experience, or sum up plot points or action.  This clip is one of my favorite musical moments as Garnet comes back together after Steven and the rest of the gems were captured by evil invading gems.

It really is a fun show.  Longtime followers know I’m a big fan of cartoons, but this one definitely isn’t just for kids.


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