Coming of age tales are usually found in Judy Blume pages or John Hughes films, but that’s not the case as far as Rebecca Sugar’s concerned. She’s the first woman to create a show for Cartoon Network all by her lonesome and she’s gone and made Steven Universe, the story of a boy with a powerful gem but no clue how to use it. He lives with three drastically different, fellow gem holders known as the Crystal Gems. Each week it seems like we’ll dive deeper into Steven’s universe in Beach City as he learns all his gem has to offer.
“Gem Glow” was a good introductory into the four main characters and even a minor one who may or may not have stolen my heart—Lars the stock boy, even animated bad boys have the ability to make me all giddy. Anyways, Steven’s distressed over his favorite ice-cream treat, Cookie Cats, have been taken off the market. You might think he’s a bit overdramatic. To those who do, you must’ve never been in love with a food item before. Don’t even get me started on when Hometown Buffet discontinued the chicken and dumplings at dinner.
Knowing Steven would be upset, the Gems stock up the freezer and Steven’s so delighted he raps lamenting Cookie Cats are “pets for your tummy.” While all this goes down his belly gem glows. This is a shock because while the other Gems are fully aware of their gems powers, Steven’s oblivious about his. He then goes on to believe his frozen treat is what summoned a shield from his shiny stone. Of course it wasn’t. I am going to guess that it was his pure happiness. Stay tuned the rest of the season to see if I’m right about it and congratulate me with a Cookie Cat.
Learning what his gem does and how to use it leads us to learn each of the other Gems distinct personalities. Pearl is Little Miss Responsible, Amethyst is carefree and well, lazy, and Garnet is the strong silent type. She says very few words but is intimidating as hell. (Note: Keep in mind that these are their final forms compared to the pilot. Pearl’s more ghostlike, Garnet has an afro, and Lars is hotter.)
It appears that all the episodes will showcase the characters on a humanistic level while some sort of danger looms in the air. They battled centipedles in this one and a giant Red Eye in the sky in “Laser Light Cannon.” Not only did they end up defeating the sky terror, but we kind of learn why Steven lives with three chicks. Mama, Rose Quartz, was a Gem who gave up her physical form to have Steven, and now he has her stone.
It turns out the only way to get rid of the Red Eye is to take it down with Steven’s mom’s laser light cannon. Only problem is that she’s not around. They must seek the help of Steven’s dad, Greg (voiced by Tom Scharpling of the cult radio show The Best Show on WFMU). He’s “kind of a mess” according to Amethyst. She was being kind because that “kind of” should’ve been a straight up “total.” He has a horrific, yet amusing farmer’s tan, lives in a van and is a failed musician. Mr. Universe never stood a chance although his (likely only) song “Let Me Drive My Van (Into Your Heart” was a delight.
They save their town, sort of, with Greg’s motto, “If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn’t have hot dogs.” That’s muttered numerous times and everyone seems to know it, so it seems like that’s the underlined mantra of the series; life’s not perfect but the mistakes we make may lead to greatness. Yes, hot dogs are the greatness in this scenario.