Thoughts on Steven Quartz Universe and his television program.

I found myself abruptly overwhelmed with Thoughts and Feelings about cartoons this morning, at a length not appropriate for Twitter. SO! Time to dust off the ol’ LJ for some good old-fashioned nerd blogging.

Indulge me for a moment, friends. And let me tell you about Steven Universe.

A lot of the chatter recently has been about how it’s fantastic science fiction, how its cast is dense with amazing women characters and overtly queer relationships and the kind of sweet-hearted masculinity we rarely see on American TV, how it packs an insane amount of content and nuance into 12-minute episodes without ever feeling rushed or condensed, and all of those things are true! They’re all awesome, and they all make me enormously happy.

But this morning, I wanted to talk a little more about the emotional life of the show — the bits that leave me open-mouthed and wide-eyed on the couch, my hand pressed against my chest.

Steven Universe is a show about kindness — about being thoughtful and generous even (especially) when it’s difficult; about forgiving people for their mistakes, and trying to understand their reasons; about taking care with the feelings of others, even when you don’t completely understand them; about being kind to yourself.

It’s a show about the exhilarating joy of existence, the thrill of being alive on a planet that’s beautiful and delicate and wholly unique; the painful and important knowledge of how precious the people in our lives are and how easily they can be lost.

It’s a show about grief — for a mother you’ve never met who both passed on a legacy of incredible strength and generosity, and who cast a shadow so long and so imposing you’re not sure you can ever be free of it; for a friend who willingly left you behind for reasons you may or may not agree with, after you’ve already given up your old life and any hope of returning home for the sake of their ideals; for a wife you loved intensely and forever who literally surrendered her physical form to have a child with you, whom you also love, but who is not and will never be her.

It’s a show about laughter and fun, about singing your feelings and joshing your friends and talking about your favorite books; about going for rambling drives with the teenagers in your tiny town who are also kind of the older siblings you wouldn’t otherwise have had; about cheap boardwalk food and arcades and tourist season and all the myriad details of life in a seaside town on the Atlantic coast; about goofy puns and weird treasures in your dad’s storage locker and backpacks that look like cheeseburgers.

It’s a show about growing up; about how difficult it is to become the person you want to be; about recovering from trauma and learning how to ask for help; about recognizing when you need help; about that moment when you realize, for the first terrifying time, that the adults in your life often have no idea what they’re doing; about lying awake at night worried about dangers you don’t entirely understand.

Steven Universe is a show about a sensitive, kind-hearted, schmaltz-loving nerd of a boy, and his quietly badass brilliant best friend-who-is-also-a-girl, and his well-intentioned-but-not-entirely-cut-out-for-this dad, and his three surrogate moms who only barely grasp how humans work and are wrestling with an especially intense version of learning on the job.

It’s also one of the best — if not the best — SF/F shows on television. But that’s a whole other blog post.

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