In the eighth episode of the first season of Steven Universe, sometimes, failure is a good thing. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.
Seriously, I can see how I’m gonna have a lot of fun with this show. There’s always a silliness to these stories, but in an episode like “Serious Steven,” you can see the educational aspect, too. I was reminded of the theme in “Cheeseburger Backpack” while watching this, in the sense that failure is presented as a normal part of life. It’s not as awful as it’s made to seem. That’s not to say that failure always feels great! Instead of painting it in extremes, Steven Universe makes it part of living.
Steven “failed” at Funland. Now, I relate to this on a spiritual level because I love amusement park rides of all types, but the second you get me in anything that spins in tight circles, and I am ready to DIE. While I’ve mostly conquered my motion sickness in vehicles (I CAN READ AND WRITE IN CARS NOW!!!), my body is a fragile shell once I spin. I can’t do it, y’all. I learned this the hard way at my very first trip to a theme park: Disneyland. Those goddamn Tea Cups, oh my god. I honestly thought I was in my final moments then, you have no idea. I was like 8 or 9 and was convinced I was about to leave this mortal plane because of THE TEA CUPS RIDE. I have rarely tried to face this doom since then. I just know that my body cannot handle this specific type of motion, so I don’t even try it.
So I understand Steven’s embarrassment over being unable to handle this ride, especially since he is so carefree and adventurous. A ride defeated him! How is he going to react to something that’s truly dangerous and terrifying? (Well, relatively speaking. That ride looked like a death sentence to me.) Thus, Serious Steven is born. His journey alongside the Crystal Gems (I’m giving them a Proper Title now, it’s easier) is all about him learning whether or not he can take these missions seriously… and what exactly does that mean? I think Steven takes everything seriously; it’s just that his approach is so wacky and delightful that it might be mistaken for him not caring.
But lord, I can’t imagine a character who cares more than Steven on this show. He’s so in tune with everyone’s emotions, and he’s able to read situations quickly when the need arises. What’s so cool about this is how the writers come up with a way to take his previous failure and turn it into a victory. That’s why he freaks out after multiple puzzle rooms. The repetitive nature of the gem maze is scary, but it’s his realization that his mistakes got them there in the first place that sets him off. Couple that with his feelings of inadequacy (since Garnet has to carry him or save him in every single room) and it’s perfectly understandable that he despairs so much over this predicament.
However, that’s exactly how he solves this problem: he compares his current predicament to his past failure, and he’s able to explain the repetitive nature of the maze to everyone else. Y’ALL. THAT IS SO COOL. This show gives Steven a problem, shows him getting emotional and frustrated over it, and then has him solve it because he got upset. I REALLY REALLY LIKE THIS, OKAY.
Even if none of these episodes are really connected, I am eager to watch more of Steven Universe. They’re like eleven-minute absurd parables in a way. Plus, each episode seems to have one joke that absolutely destroys me. This time around? Pearl misunderstanding the teacup ride. THAT IS SO PERFECT AND IN-CHARACTER FOR HER, OH MY GOD.
The video for “Serious Steven” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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