Summer. Tis the Season of Hiatus. All my favourite shows are taking a well-earned break because they assume that everyone is out in the sun having fun…that would be true if I didn’t live in Wales. No swimming pools, no BBQ but rainy days huddled inside from the not so Summery weather and so how do I decide to spend it? Lighting up the dreary with Steven Universe of course! After thoroughly enjoying Avatar The Last Airbender, I thought I’d give another cartoon a shot and Steven and the Crystal Gems were calling to me over on Cartoon Network.
First and foremost, Steven Universe is by definition a children’s television show and I understand that watching it is not to everyone’s taste. However, it is times like this when I’m already starting to miss school and my childhood that I run back to a show that is just a complete bundle of fun. It is not sophisticated or high-end drama that I also know and love but I believe that what creator Rebecca Sugar has created deserves to be talked about.
No introduction, no context, no back story, we first meet the cute and cuddly Steven distressing over the discontinuation of his favourite ice-cream. Think the same level emotion of your favourite television show not being recommissioned. It is this shroud of mystery that lingers as the episodes progress and it is the perfect device to keep a viewer intrigued. You swiftly learn that you have entered a universe in which gems have physical forms and half gem, half human Steven whose mother gave up that physical form so that he may live takes her place among The Crystal Gems: Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl.
Garnet, voiced by singer Estelle best known for the song American Boy is described by Steven as the most mysterious of the three. Little is known about her during the first season but she is known for her subtly emoted love for Steven that shines through in the cutest of ways. With mighty gem powered fists she is also labelled as the leader of the group and loving Garnet is best found in seeing such a dangerous, cool gem playing along with Steven’s games. Anyone up for a game of Steven Tag!?
Amethyst, voiced by Michaela Dietz is the youngest of the Crystal Gems and therefore the most excitable, messy and fun in Steven terms. Her gem weapon of choice is a whip and despite all of the gems having the ability to shape shift, Amethyst is the one to utilise it more profusely; anytime, anywhere with anyone. Alike Garnet however, she loves Steven as a big sister would love her little brother which naturally is accompanied with the odd tease and prank.
Pearl, voiced by Deedee Magno is the mother hen of the Crystal Gems: neat, considerate, logical and constantly worrying over who she cares about. Her gem weapon is a spear, her fighting style is precise and elegant, and being Rose Quartz (Steven’s Mother’s) closest companion she cares for him deeply. It is near impossible to choose a favourite character but simply because Pearl is a lot like me in many ways, and has recognisable flaws, I just love her and how she reacts to the otherworldly situations.
Steven, voiced by Zach Callison is the forever adorable Steven Quartz Universe and he has endearing need to make those he cares about proud, has a pure big-hearted innocence, and is talented on the ukulele. His crystal gem which is located in none other than his belly button powers up a shield and coupled with his protective bubbles demonstrates the loving core of Steven’s personality.
Fun Fact: Steven Universe is the FIRST Cartoon Network show to have been created by a woman. You go Rebecca Sugar!
My fondness for Steven Universe stems in how it promotes minorities, gender and a variety of body shapes in a medium accessible for children. The plot is light and fun but subtly educates strong life messages and with a positive tone. Gender fluidity, sexuality, different family situations and a plethora of relationship dynamics, all are featured in the series without being overly imposing and is a credit to children’s television; an utter importance in this genre. The characters have expressive depth that only continues to grow with each ten minute episode, ten minutes that possess more successful storytelling then even some adult dramas are able to achieve. Steven Universe has reduced me to out loud laughter, emotional tears and the simple need to watch more and more.
Not to mention that there are some seriously adorable songs throughout the series, and here you’ll find a link to a compilation of those in the first season so spoiler warning for anyone who clicks!
You can watch Steven Universe on Cartoon Network or there are various Youtube channels that have numerous episodes available to watch.
What are you watching this Summer? Anything that I should be? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading and if you want to follow me on Twitter @bingebox then you’ll find updates and general television goodness.