In the eighteenth episode of the first season of Steven Universe, I love the Pizza family. A lot. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.
You know, I cannot think of a single animated show period that has a West African family on it. At all. NOT ONE OF THEM. And this is not the first time we’ve seen the Pizza family; Kiki and Jenny have each appeared a couple times, and I swear Kofi was around once, but now we get the glorious introduction of Nanefua. These characters are an integral part of Beach City now, but they also provide the show a chance to address something else:
Because seriously, so much of Beach City gets destroyed. Not totally destroyed, but I imagine being a non-Gem citizen must be a surreal experience. Things explode all the time! How does Beach City deal with that? In this specific instance, Garnet accidentally destroys the sign of Fish Stew Pizza. And I guess I’d never thought about how they don’t bother to fix the things they break. Granted, as Garnet later states, they’re not in this for the gratitude. They save humanity because it’s their job! But that doesn’t mean they don’t affect humanity in other ways.
So, I understand why Kofi banned the Gems from his shop (and why the Gems didn’t really seem to care). They damaged his sign, they weren’t remorseful, and they didn’t make any efforts to try and repair it. Why should he allow them to partake in his food? Of course, this is HEARTBREAKING for Steven because Fish Stew Pizza is his EVERYTHING. And since Steven is an eternal peacemaker, he comes up with a way to patch things between his family and the Pizza family.
A BEACH PARTY.
This is one of Steven’s idea that I think backfires because of other people, not Steven. He messes up a lot and is aware of that. (He admitted that to Connie in “Lion 2: The Movie.”) But he did everything right here! He got both sides together, he grilled burgers and hot dogs, and then he organized a volleyball game. Even in his planning of that, he realizes it makes no sense to pair the two families against one another. He hilariously manages to pair identical personality types together, though, and IT IS DISASTROUS. Pearl and Kiki are neat and organized; Amethyst and Jenny love pranks and chaos; Kofi and Garnet thrive through power and intimidation. (Kofi threatening Jenny with random punishments was so funny, oh my god.) And as Nanefua and Steven watch, the very game designed to bring these people together starts to tear them apart. I have never seen a group of people descend into petty competitiveness faster than these folks.
And while it’s one of the funnier things in Steven Universe, it also allows both Nanefua and Steven to unify everyone in the end. Both characters are charismatic and funny, but they’re also natural diplomats. Even though everyone is ready to fight, the two of them team up and inspire the others to work together, too, all to defeat the Puffer Fish. (SERIOUSLY, WHERE DO THESE GEM ANTAGONISTS KEEP COMING FROM.) Teamwork! Friendship! Two of my favorite themes ever, I swear!
This episode was a delight. I’m glad the Gems have made new friends, and I hope to see the Pizza family sooner than later.
The video for “Beach Party” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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