Right now is what many people consider the Golden Age of Television. With shows like Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and Mr. Robot it’s easy to see why that is. However, some shows, no matter how good they are, can be limited by various factors such as what network it airs on, the amount of publicity the show gets, or even how people perceive the show before watching it. A show that suffers a lack of wider viewership due the perception that it is a show for kids is Steven Universe.
Steven Universe is an animated show currently in its fourth season and airs on Cartoon Network. The show revolves around Steven and “The Crystal Gems” (Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl) three gem based aliens that try to protect the world from disaster. The show, while using a premise seen in many other hero based cartoons, has its own unique charm brought out by the diverse personalities of each of the characters and a story line that appeals to both children and adults.
Steven Universe is a cartoon that while having bright colors, light hearted songs, and pun filled jokes also sprinkles in important messages for those watching the show whether it’s a young child or an adult. An example of the duality that appears in Steven Universe is the familial bond between the three gems and Steven. Throughout the show there are moments where Steven will make corny jokes or one of the gems will poke fun at a situation Steven finds himself in but at the end of the day there is love between the gems and Steven. Steven Universe also promotes non-traditional family groups. The fact that Steven, instead of living with his father lives with three female family figures shows that it’s not strange if your family doesn’t have the same roles as a traditional family group. The family aspect is even furthered when the watcher learns that Steven’s mother passed away and he had never met her leaving him to find a family in the Crystal Gems. Important topics are found throughout the show; there have been episodes focusing on issues like the love between two female characters to even an episode where an abusive relationship is addressed. The sprinkling of the heavier topics is a reason that people of a higher age range can appreciate the show because while it is a cartoon there is a deeper meaning trying to be put across by the creators, that adults can find and appreciate.
The song above is a great example of a serious moment found in the midst of an episode.
Out of everything the biggest reason why I believe Steven Universe is a show to watch out for is that it is a show that can combine lightheartedness and serious subject matter into a compelling show where the characters grow and develop over the course of the series. Everyone has long days and sometimes you just need to unwind and watch a show that makes you laugh with dumb puns or silly situations like a pizza parlor going to war with a French fry hut. Steven Universe provides comedy while at the same time showing its more serious side when Steven has to come to terms that he can’t save everyone or when he struggles with self-identity issues. While other cartoons have the unfortunate situation of having stories where by the end of an episode the hero saves the day and everything is wrapped up in a nice bow, Steven Universe diverges from that format and has endings that aren’t so cut and dry and there are real problems Steven and the Gems must address whether its about a villain that escaped or an emotional issue holding back one of the team. Throughout the series each character is explored and you start to build a connection to each one because as the show progresses the characters do as well. The show unlike other cartoons does not cause the characters to regress after learning important lessons meaning an audience that is older won’t feel frustrated by the lack of character development. Overall, Steven Universe has the traits of a great show and just because it is a cartoon doesn’t mean someone older can’t enjoy it.