Steven Universe (DVD)

Rebecca Sugar
5
Wednesday, Aug 19, 2015

Steven Universe is everything I never knew I wanted in a show.

I was initially put off by the animation. The character designs just struck me as weird and more than a little doofy. Still, I'd heard a lot of good things about it, and I figured it couldn't hurt to try—each episode is only about eleven minutes, after all. Plus, it's created by Rebecca Sugar, best known for her work on Adventure Time.

I was instantly captivated. The titular character is extremely doofy in the most charming ways imaginable. Steven is the kindest, most loving and generous soul you could imagine, while still being a kid with limited understanding of events, a simplistic outlook, and a mess of insecurities. Add to that the Crystal Gems: the alien warriors protecting Earth, of which Steven's mother had been the leader. Garnet is reserved, incredibly strong, and has the slyest sense of humor. Amethyst is laid back and always up to something fun. Pearl is organized and a bit fussy. They all adore Steven in their own ways.

The human characters are also wonderful and flawed. Greg, Steven's father, is a former rocker and current car wash owner who lives in his old tour van. He clearly adores his son, and just as clearly doesn't know how to deal with the Gem half of him. Connie, Steven's friend, is smart and strong and her own mess of insecurities. Other town residents put in frequent appearances, adding a little more depth and complexity every time you see them.

I love this show for having so many levels. It's quite easy to view it as just a fun, silly show about fighting monsters. It's equally easy to see it as a complex, layered dissertation on the need for self-expression, the value of informed consent, and the terror of loss.

It's possible this show isn't perfect. But, as Greg says, if every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn't have hot dogs. Much like hot dogs, Steven Universe has broad appeal.

Written by Rachel C.