Speculative Fiction Saturday: Steven Universe

SOne of the reasons why I continue to go back to television is that it surprises me every once in a while. Steven Universe is one of those surprises that was more than just pleasant, but it is truly something.

Steven Universe is an original epic wearing the disguise of a kid’s show. The Cartoon Network occasionally spews out something really good every once in a while, and Steven Universe is as good as Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, but in shorter form.

I’ll start by saying that it is very difficult to describe the premise of Stephen Universe. There isn’t really a pilot episode that explains everything, and it really counts on the viewer spotting hints of what is going on. In fact, I’m going to go into detail on some things after the jump.

Steven Universe (that is his last name) lives in an odd home shaped like an odd statue with three Crystal Gems. If you listen to the catchy theme song, the Gems are three ladies who defend the world against supernatural evils. These Gems are always on missions but they raise Stephen as one of them.

These Gems are great characters. There is Garnet, a tall and strong, stoic yet caring, woman of few words. Pearl is the rational and orderly one who is the true “parent” in Stephen’s life. Then there is Amethyst, a tough and headstrong lady who could easily be a child herself.

As for Steven, he is as excitable and whiny as a real child, but not enough so he is annoying. Steven is actually the child of Rose Quartz, a Crystal Gem who had a baby with Stephen’s father, and had to give her own life so Steven could life. This story of Steven’s birth is never shown, at least in Season 1. I only watched Season 1, and as much as I hate waiting, I want to wait for another season to end so I can see the story-arc.

Season 1 does have a story arc to it, and understanding it is all about learning who the Crystal Gems are. The first episodes don’t explain who they are, but they are some kind of otherworldly immortal beings. They come from a Gem Homeworld, and it appears that these Gem people have been going from world to world, taking it over. At least, this is what I think is going on. I think I might have this wrong, as I have had to watch all of Season 1 and attempt to piece a backstory together. One of these days, there had better be one heck of a movie where we see this story.

At some point in the past, thousands of years in the past, Rose, Garnet, and Pearl fought against the Gem empire and decided to fight for Earth’s freedom. Apparently, when Gems take over world, they essentially make more Gem people, but this would have killed the Earth’s population as we know it. I’m not certain what Rose, Pearl, and Garnet did in those thousands of years before they met Greg, Stephen’s father, but they picked up Amethyst along the way, apparently.

Steven Universe is one of those shows that has a backstory that is bigger than its actual story, and it is just great. Some of the episodes deal with the plot of the Gem Homeworld, who are apparently still interested in Earth. Other episodes deal with Steven just being a kid, dealing with problems that most kids deal with. He also deals with being part Gem, which is still similar to the awkward age of childhood.

All of it mixes together in a colorful world that is as beautiful as it is amazing. Watch it now if you haven’t yet. I didn’t even cover half the things that make it interesting.

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