You’ve no idea how long I’ve been waiting for this Thursday to come by! Why? Well, my friends, one of the best TV shows out there right now is coming back to our screens – that’s right Steven Universe is coming back to Cartoon Network tomorrow and if you haven’t checked it out yet then you’re missing it out… big time!
Created by Rebecca Sugar (it’s actually the first Cartoon Network series created by a woman), the animated series first aired November 2013 and quickly picked up a fan base, thanks in large part to the internet. With one successful season under it’s belt, a second season about to return from it’s break, Steven Universe and it’s loveable world and characters have been confirmed to return for a third season already but if you’re yet to be convinced to give the show a chance, allow me to persuade you!
Here are seven reasons you should start watching this spectacular show!
Okay the clip above has slightly reduced quality but it should give you an indication as to just show beautiful the show actually looks in every episode.
From character design to background settings, Steven and the Crystal Gems living in one of the most expansive and colourful worlds on TV right now and Sugar and her team have given it so much life.
Drawing on influences from retro games, anime and her time working on Adventure Time, the show looks just as delicious as ‘Together Breakfast’ or even a ‘Cookie Cat’.
When your walk to work is set to the soundtrack from a cartoon as opposed to current chart hits, you know that the show is doing something right. At some point most of characters from the show are featured in a musical number with most even lending vocals. Steven and his guardians tend to get more song time in it and that’s not a complaint – the characters tend to use music to convey their feelings and if you don’t find yourself playing the opening song, actually all the songs, on loop then clearly you need your hearing tested! The music isn’t a bonus to the already awesome animation, it’s a character in it’s own right appearing always at the perfect moment and recurring just enough to leave you wanting more!
The fact that the character of Garnet is voiced by Grammy Award winner Estelle doesn’t hurt your chances of having a smashing soundtrack either by the way!
Steven Universe is about a boy of the same name who happens to possess a gem, or rather who happens to be half human and half Gem. Protected by three Gems, Garnet, Pearl and Amethyst, Steven spends his days trying to uncover his own powers, navigate life as an awkwardly innocent pre-teen while also seek out the approval and respect of his Crystal Gem guardians.
Who the Gems are and why they are on Earth make up most of the first season’s arc with Steven learning more about his gem heritage but also about life and growing up. The series provides plenty of room for characters both main and secondary to share the screen, grow and develop, a knack that Sugar has mastered when it comes to expanding the world within the show.
This is exactly what cartoons should be about! They should entertain but they should also educate – a difficult mix, too much of one and you’re placating your audience with slapstick silly and too much of the other and your patronise that audience with preachy messages. Thankfully Rebecca Sugar‘s characters fall in the middle – Steven is a wonderful role model for kids, both big and small. He tries his hardest to live up to his responsibilities, he really feels like an actual kid, innocent, curious and wanting nothing more than to be loved and accepted.
His guardians, the powerful Crystal Gems, whose lack of humanity make them have some of the most human moments on screen, are just as interesting and endearing to viewers. Each brings their own personality, quirks and faults, handling each situation in their own way while they try to guide and care for their charge.
You can’t forget about Steven’s human companions though, whether it’s his dorky but lovable father, the nervous but resilient Connie or any of his fellow Beach City citizens, Sugar can never be accused of failing to create a unique world with even more unique characters.
No two people are the same! No two people feel the same or respond the same to shared events and experiences. Each of us carries their own baggage, carves their own path and goes through life our own way but we’re never alone. Steven Universe conveys some of the most moving and powerful life lessons while also exploring identity, social ‘norms’ and gender constructs in an informed, lighthearted and, more importantly, delicate manner. Relationships, be they between friends, family or lovers are questioned by most of the characters in the show and as an audience you can’t help but reflect on what’s discussed.
Mental health, LGBT, the role of women, all staple to the show, and Steven Universe is proof that a cartoon can be just as evocative and educational as any other media.
Despite being heavy in the truth bomb department the show never feels like it’s cramming this down your throat or forcing a belief on you, a credit to its creator.
Whether it’s Steven accidentally shape shifting his fingers into cats, his stint with Amethyst as amateur wrestlers or his imagination gushing over Garnet, the show packs it’s fair share of laughs.
That being said there are plenty of moments that make you giggle or chuckle with joy, if Steven Universe could be summed up with one word then it would be joyful – it has joy in abundance!
You’ve experienced joy, you’ve been dazzled and inspired, you’ve laughed and cheered for your favourite character now prepare to cry. You can’t help but be pulled into the world of Steven Universe and if you’re not holding back tears by the end of season of one then you’re definitely going to be hit hard in season two.
Steven Universe is a thoughtful, enjoyable and fun show and everyone should be watching! It really has all the stuff that a good kid’s cartoon, a good TV show, is made up of, so what are you waiting for!? Hurry and catch up before the second season kicks off again!
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!