Disclaimer: This writing is comprised of my own opinions of the show. Additionally, this post contains spoilers to the show if you are currently or plan to watch ‘Steven Universe’ at some point.
For most adults cartoons are seen as juvenile and below them. I was always like this and strayed away from them. That is, until my best friend introduced me to ‘Steven Universe’. ‘Steven Universe’ is an animated show, created by Rebecca Sugar, focused around the coming-of-age of a young boy named Steven Universe. Steven’s mother was part of an alien gem race that came to earth, but has a human father. The show revolves around the daily adventures of Steven and the three gems he lives with, Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, and their attempt to protect earth from any outside threats. On the surface ‘Steven Universe’ is a lighthearted, fun show that many children enjoy. However, on a deeper level this show gives various examples of intersectionality through representation of many different identities and issues within our society.
First, ‘Steven Universe’ gives insight in to how it feels to grow up mixed race. While Steven’s race is ambiguous, he is stuck between the gem world and the human world, which causes him much confusion. This confusion is mainly manifested in his difficulty harnessing his gem powers. Because of this, the other gems often leave Steven out of missions they go on to keep the earth safe. We can see how Steven feels extremely left out and out of place in the world of the gems, which is representative of how many mixed children often feel out of place in one of their races because of a lack of connection with said race. As the show goes on, we see Steven become involved more with both the Gems and other humans; with this we can see representation of how many mixed race children can also have very positive identities and relationships with both of their races.
Next, ‘Steven Universe’ is extremely diverse. To start out, all of the characters in the show are drawn with different body types; because of this, we see positive representation of all different body types, without scrutiny or comparisons being made. Along with body diversity, we see an array of different races and extreme representation of people of color in the show. While the gems do not technically have a race because they are aliens, we can view Garnet as an African American woman. Additionally, there are multiple characters who are people of color such as Connie and her family, the Pizzas, etc. If this doesn’t already impress you, the casting for the voice actors is overwhelmingly women and men of color, as well.
Lastly, ‘Steven Universe’ sends positive messages out regarding love and relationships. To start off, Steven is a kindhearted soul that shows love to everyone and everything around him; his innocent nature, while sometimes seen as naivety, always prevails through situations of injustice. Next, we see the idea of fusion in the show;fusion is when gems feel an extreme trust and connection with each other; through this trust, they are able to fuse in to one being. However, sometimes gems may fuse even when one or both parties do not wish to. Through this, there is an underlying message of how relationships should be formed through trust, and how abusive, forced relationships should be seen as negative and unacceptable. Lastly, we see many hints towards the presence of LGBT characters and relationships in the show. One of the gems, Pearl, is shown throughout the first season as having romantic feelings towards Steven’s mother, Rose. We see this through many of her dialogues with other characters. Another one of the gems, Garnet, is quite literally an LGBT relationship. As we find out at the close of the first season, Garnet is in fact a fusion of two gems, Ruby and Sapphire, who love each other so intensely that they decided to fuse permanently. While many may deny that this relationship is anything more than just a really great gal pal relationship, Sugar made it quite obvious her intentions of Garnet’s character. We can see this in a song that Garnet sings after Steven finds out she is a fusion.
I could go on even further about how ‘Steven Universe’ is a show that represents various identities in a positive light. However, I have already rambled on for quite some time. Now, I only hope that you can go check out the show and see for yourself how fantastic it is!