In the ninth episode of the first season of Steven Universe, I ADORE THIS EPISODE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.
Honestly? This is one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen that deals with professional wrestling. There’s such a joy for that form of entertainment all throughout “Tiger Millionaire.” Even more important, though, is the fact that this episode is about celebrating being weird and finding a place to belong.
It’s no secret that Amethyst is utterly unlike the other Crystal Gems. We only need to look to her sarcastically-recited list of her flaws to see how she differentiates from her peers. She’s often pure chaos, and she certainly does exactly what she wants to do. In a lot of ways, I see her as being closest to Steven in terms of temperament and style, though Steven is a lot more vocal about his anxieties. They’re both very impulsive, and it clashes with the fighting styles of Garnet and Pearl.
So it makes a whole lot of sense that Amethyst thrives in the controlled chaos of professional wrestling. There, people can be weird, strange, ridiculous, over-the-top, and they’re cheered for being different. It makes even more sense that Steven would see this and want to participate! There, mistakes are part of the entertainment, not something to be criticized.
“Tiger Millionaire” comes off as a giant love letter to wrestling. Watching Steven come up with his own persona is hilarious because HE TOOK IT SO SERIOUSLY. He had a backstory and everything! (THE COCONUT MINES, OH MY GOD.) And then, in true professional wrestling fashion, Steven entertains. He understands that it’s necessarily about the violence at all, which Pearl doesn’t get until the end of the episode. As Amethyst’s sidekick, he finds clever and cunning ways to defeat opponents, all of them within his characterization as Tiger Millionaire.
I can’t get over how brilliant the montage sequence is. The bribe with the suitcase. The newspaper. DUMPING ALL THE SODA IN THE ARENA ON THE GROUND AND STOMPING IN IT. It’s so goddamn hilarious and exactly the sort of thing that professional wrestlers do. Villains are there for a reason, and they’re important for the narrative built in wrestling!
Over the Top
Unfortunately, Steven is here to have fun, and when he takes his character too far, he ends up hurting Lars’s feelings. Now, there’s nothing Steven wants to do less than hurting someone. That little guy is CONSUMED with goodness, so his crisis here is directly related to that. Amethyst insists that Steven shouldn’t care how others feel about him, but that’s really great advice in every situation, is it? Because in this case, Steven caused Lars to feel unwanted and unappreciated! He should care what Lars thinks if his behavior causes someone else harm.
And when it comes down to it, even Amethyst has to admit that she’s gone too far. Both she and Steven slip deep into these personas, but is it worth the cost if it ruins wrestling for other people? “Tiger Millionaire” shows us how this underground community has brought together tons of people in Beach City, many who probably don’t feel like they belong anywhere else. Therefore, if someone is doing something that pushes people away, is that fair?
No. That’s what made underground wrestling special in Beach City, and that’s what Steven fixes by diffusing the awkward confrontation between Garnet and Amethyst. He gets them to realize that they shouldn’t have escalated things so far, and he also reminds everyone of how acceptance of differences is why that community has thrived for so long.
This episode is so pure and good and it made me feel incredible. I love it when a show sets the bar high very early in its run. I HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO GO AND STEVEN UNIVERSE IS ALREADY GREAT.
The video for “Tiger Millionaire” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
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