Recently in television there has been greater diversity of LGBTQ relationships, mental health issues, and different cultures. One of the first popular shows to do this was the cartoon “Steven Universe,” which has aired on Cartoon Network for five seasons since 2013.
However, for anyone eager to watch a show of inclusion, this is not a good choice. Yes, it breaks down barriers and social norms, but it is horribly written, badly animated, and poorly scheduled.
Rebecca Sugar has good intentions in her writing. She brings awareness to mental disorders, and she has representation of minorities, especially the LGBTQ community. The problem with this LGBTQ representation is that the relationships she depicts are rocky and even abusive. The longest relationship is that between the characters Pearl and Rose Quartz. After Rose Quartz’s alleged death, Pearl is left pining after her, but when Pearl is revealed to be Rose Quartz’s maid, this relationship becomes a recipe for abuse. Fans have compared this relationship like that between a master and slave. It’s not a healthy relationship by any means.
This is barely scratching the surface of everything wrong with “Steven Universe,” but many of the issues I am not qualified to talk about. For example, the characters are racially coded, and the only villain as of late to not receive a redemption arc was an African American stereotype. Genocidal tyrants even got redemption. If this catches anyone’s interest, there are several articles from much more qualified people talking about this issue that can be found online, such as “All These Black Characters and 0 Done Right — How Steven Universe Fails Its Black Fanbase, Part I” by Riley H. at medium.com.
Now, I don’t think Rebecca Sugar is doing this on purpose. I think that Sugar is treating it like a bad fanfiction; full of filler stories about side characters, inconsistent scheduling, etcetera. A big problem here is that Rebecca Sugar does not see that what she is doing could be wrong, and no one is telling her. People think its fine not to tell her because it’s just a kid’s show. But that’s the problem. Children are some of the most impressionable people in society, and they should not be taught that people who fit the stereotypes of people of color are bad or evil. It is not okay.