I'ma be honest with y'all: I got on the Steven Universe hype train late. Indeed, though the show debuted November of 2013, I did not watch my first episode until this past summer.
I know, I know. I'm wrong for that, but I'm here now and I'm *hype*! What's more is that I want to let the rest of the world know why they too should get on the hype train, and what they're missing out on.
So, without further ado, here are seven reasons why you should watch and love Steven Universe:
1. The Music
If you're friends with a bunch of Steven Universe stans, you already know that the music is one of the show's best aspects. Still, just in case you're not, let me be the first to tell you that the music is, in fact, one of the show's greatest aspects.
Aside from the fact that the theme song is catchy and sung by none other than the squad themselves (Steven, Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl), unlike some musical shows or even movies, the music actually becomes instrumental to the plot when it comes up. For example, without spoiling too much, but music is especially key to fusions (lol, yes I am having Dragon Ball Z flashbacks) on the show and it is quite the joy to watch.
I also hate musicals normally; so even if you're a grouch like me, you're gonna find all this pretty hard to resist.
SN: I would never forgive myself if I didn't mention the wonderful song/interlude “Love Like You” that is sang at the end of certain episodes. In fact, many SU fans hypothesize that it is sung by none other than Steven's mom—Rose.
2. Body Diversity
In 2015, there is no question that TV is making greater strides towards representation, especially concerning people of color and certain LGBTQIA+ folks.
It's not perfect, by any means, but it's getting there.
Still, what tends to fall through the cracks is the representation of differently-abledness and varying body types. Think of any of your favorite shows—old or new—and the chances are that all your favorite characters had similar looks and body types.
Uber pretty. Lean. Toned. Usually Tall. Of course, to be more accessible, some will bump this down to average height, but still (The CW is ESPECIALLLLLLLLY guilty of this). Do you catch my drift?
One of the things we have to tackle in our thin-centric culture is how obsessed we are with said culture, but thankfully, shows like Steven Universe are helping to change the conversation. If you want great and clear cut examples of body diversity, look no further than SU's main squad (and even their secondary and tertiary cast).
Steven, Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst all have distinct body types and rock them with a fierceness that, quite frankly, a lot of us are not used to. Amethyst has all of the curves. Garnet has her 'fro and those signature hips (and like, she's SO tall. Women and those that are female-identifying usually only get to be a certain type of tall, in comparison with their male counterparts. They gave no f*cks here, however). Steven has more to love and he is doing just that—loving it! And Pearl is, in fact, thin and doesn't sh*t on herself for it because guess what? That's how her body looks and she loves it.
That's the thing. They love themselves. And what's more positive and revolutionary than that?
3. Representation In Voice Acting
Y'all. I remember being a little kid and being so hype about voice casts, especially when they were DC Animated Universe voice casts because, over the years, DC has managed to snag some big and pretty diverse names.
That said, DC ain't got sh*t on Steven Universe. Indeed, SU boasts such a diverse cast of vocal talent that I was floored upon learning all of their names and seeing all of their faces.
Don't believe me? Well, peep the receipts below:
See??? Diverse! Multi-racial! Representative not only in front of the camera and on paper but behind the camera and behind the scenes as well! Yes, all that shade was for Matt Damon.
In that same vein, JUST in case you weren't impressed by the already dope ass voice cast, let me be the first to tell you that once upon a time in Gemworld, Patron Saint Nicki “Onika” Minaj guest-starred as Garnet and Amethyst's fusion Sugilite and it was awesome.
On top of that, T-Pain (who is madly in love with the show as well) has expressed interest in voicing a character also.
So if celebs are your thing, I've gotta feeling that SU won't disappoint.
5. Representations In Love and Gender
As I mentioned earlier, there have been wonderful leaps in LGBTQIA+ representation, but only certain types of LGBTQIA representation (said representation tends to be skewed towards more cis and more White).
SU challenges all of that. Obvious color-coding and vocal repping aside, the Gems (Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst) play with the gender binary and sexual dimorphism. Yes, they do have her/she pronouns, but in general, the Gems know no gender and take whatever shape they like and they're comfortable with.
And it doesn't stop there either. Garnet, their leader, is a literally THE product of a loving, same-sex relationship between Ruby and Sapphire.
Do you KNOW how radical that is? Especially for a kid's show? Even in 2015? Like, it's mind-boggling really. Whereas '90s folk and older folk are probably just now learning these new terms and educating ourselves on these things, our kids get a head-start on being BETTER and MORE LOVING people.
And man, I gotta thank Rebecca Sugar for that and thank Cartoon Network for giving her a platform to do that (Granted, I'm still mad about Young Justice, but we'll talk about that later).
6. It's funny as sh*t
That was blunt, I know, but there's literally no other way to describe how funny this show is.
The show's propensity for good-natured and actually funny quirks and dialogue should largely be credited to Sugar's dedication to her characters and the fact that she made damn sure that all of them had unique personalities so that their distinct brands of humor would shine through.
...The characters themselves are wonderful. Each of them has a distinct personality and a well thought out motto by which they live. And they’re never made to feel like less of a hero for what they like. Pearl is a bit more reserved in her actions, a bit more bookish. Amethyst is a glutton and a party animal. Garnet is a stoic brick wall of few words. The characters may have differing ideas of appropriate behaviors for heroes such as themselves, but no one is made to feel like they don’t deserve to be where they are. What could easily devolve to cattiness and fighting never does because they all hold a respect for each other—a respect that is important to pass down to a new generation of kids.
Tsuderin is 100% correct and it shows through the humor that is utilized. Garnet's stoic nature makes her that much more likely to deadpan things and have my sides splitting. Pearl's reserved nature often has her planning “the straight man” to Amethyst's more “loose cannon” ways, making them the perfect duo. What's more Amethyst's unapologetic love for food makes for some great gags. And there is so much more from where that came from.
But here's one of my faves:
7. Like classic CN shows, it's not afraid to get a little dark
I'ma wax nostalgic for a second. Many of us who were familiar with '90s Cartoon Network know that they were not afraid of getting dark and sometimes grim. Like, I remember when DBZ used to air on their Anime block and they showed straight-up blood and gore spilled by the Z fighters (before blood turned into black goo and holes turned into smudges).
I will also NEVER forget that episode of Rurouni Kenshin where a “villainous” samurai squad laid down their lives to help Rurouni and his friends stop a crazed gunman. Like, guns are big deal in general but the show also managed to highlight the immense changes that happened to the samurai when guns were introduced in that one episode.
Like, CN was all about giving no f*cks at one point.
Granted, some of that still exists to a degree and usually re-manifests itself in certain animated CN shows. A good example of this is Adventure Time. While the show is whimsical in nature, nothing could have prepared me for that one episode when someone mentioned the “Mushroom War”. It took me like five seconds to register what they were talking about, but when I did, I was all like:
That same spirit, that same refusal to shy away from some of the darker things has also found a way to manifest itself in SU. Like Adventure Time, the Gems had to deal with their own conflict in the form of "The Rebellion". Think the Thanagarian Invasion of JL, but wayyyyyyyyyyyyy more brutal and costly. In fact, our fair gems (and their former leader, Rose) were the rebels of that brutal ass war and come across friends who have not fully recovered from it later.
And if that's not enough to peak your nuanced interest, I don't know what is.
Seriously, DO watch Steven Universe. It is one of the shows on television right now and it will change your life for the better.