Steven Universe

Common Sense Media says

Quirky cartoon's edgy content suits tweens better than kids.

Age(i)

2
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5
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9
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11
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though his family structure is atypical, Steven has the benefit of three older "siblings" who mentor him. Even though the Gems' supernatural powers are important weapons, Steven often shows that humans are worthy warriors, too. Some people may consider certain characters to be stereotypical; for example, Garnet sports an Afro and has large, curvy thighs and a tiny waist; Amethyst is overweight, eats junk food, picks her nose, and likes to be loud and crude; and Steven's dad has a mullet, minimal work ethic, and lives out of his van. However, every character has depth and their love and support for Steven is apparent, subverting preconceived notions. 

Positive role models

Steven is compassionate, eager to learn, and creative in his problem-solving. All the Crystal Gems work closely with Steven to teach him about their shared powers. Amethyst encourages Steven's love of junk food and general crudity, but her heart is in the right place. Greg's lack of powers doesn't stop him from teaching his son some valuable lessons about being a good person, often from personal experience of doing things the wrong way.    

Violence

The Gems face off with a variety of beings. There's hand-to-hand combat, often accelerated by each Gem's unique weapons: a whip, gauntlet gloves, and a sword. Most foes collapse or disappear when they're killed, but in some cases there's additional violence.  

Sex

Nothing overt, but there's some innuendo that will hit the mark with tweens. In one scene, for example, Steven embraces a standing cannon and rubs up and down on it before being told by a grown-up to stop. 

Language

Occasional "butt."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Steven Universe is one of those Adventure Time-esque animated shows that's more for teens and tweens than young kids. Its ultra retro, stylized design and kooky plots will appeal to teens who enjoy Cartoon Network's more offbeat offerings. That said, there's a truly likable group camaraderie and lots of strong female characters, especially Steven's cohorts the Gems, both of whom benefit Steven as he matures in his powers and as a boy. You'll see a fair amount of fighting, hastened by the Gems' powerful weapons, and some creatures' bloodless deaths, but some problems are solved with words rather than violence. Brief sexual innuendo isn't out of the question either.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

STEVEN UNIVERSE is an animated adventure series that centers on the youngest member of the Crystal Gems, a group of guardians tasked with protecting Earth from a variety of unwelcome visitors. Steven (voiced by Zack Callison) inherited his Gem from his late mother, and as the show progresses, his powers evolve with the help of full-fledged Gems Garnet (Estelle), Amethyst (Michaela Dietz), and Pearl (Deedee Magno). Also present is his dad, Greg (Tom Scharpling), who compensates for his lack of superpowers with an abundance of love and protective instincts for his son. 

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Created by former Adventure Time artist/writer Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe is a quirky cartoon whose off-kilter comedy sometimes leans on stereotypes and crudity for effect. None of it is intentionally harmful, but parents may question the need for recurring potty humor and junk food consumption (ice cream and "fry bits" are a couple of the characters' favorites) that's mostly limited to the show's portlier -- and, it's implied, less healthy -- characters. On the upside, as the series evolves and Steven matures, more attention is paid to his assuming equal status and responsibility among the Gems, and Greg takes on a more significant mentoring role for Steven's character development, to surprisingly positive results.

As in Adventure Time, Steven Universe is a cartoon that isn't really meant for younger kids, thanks to some mild sexual innuendo and general crudity, among other snags. Its bizarre premise and throwback animation style may appeal to tweens looking for something that's off the beaten cartoon path, though, and they will be able to see past the characters' flaws to recognize their positive traits better than younger kids would. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of fantasy stories like this one. Why is it fun to imagine supernatural forces at play around us? How would it change the world if such things could be true?

  • Tweens: Who do you think is this show's target audience? What is the draw of cartoons that push the envelope and aren't meant for kids? Did any of this show's content seem inappropriate to you? 

  • Families can talk about their rules for media consumption. What time limits do you place on watching TV? On using devices? What are the safety and/or health hazards of too much screen time? What are some good activity alternatives to TV that your family can enjoy together?

TV details

Cast:Estelle, Michaela Dietz, Zach Callison
Network:Cartoon Network
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Space and aliens
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Steven Universe was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous November 8, 2013
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Strangely Charming

When I saw Steven Universe in commercial, I sighed in disgust. Another lackluster show with flashy colors to conceal it's boring actuality. When I actually saw the show... well, I was pleasantly surprised. "Pearl", whom I figured to be the dumb Paisley blonde of the group, was in truth, the firm mother figure. I loved that! And although the stereotypes seem a bit over-the-top (not to the point where that's the center of the issue), I found that, like Adventure Time, it's story will remain engaging for a long while. The premise is already engaging as it is. Though, the amount of junk food they consume is so somewhat excessive (not as much as Regular Show). If your kid needs a nice story, oddly fitting colors, can take some crude language, and can stomach a little bloodless action fighting scenes, I think this is for them.
Teen, 17 years old Written byIhateyou December 5, 2013
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Actual review

Emily Ashby is a biased critic, and she should be ashamed. Her review gave this show an unfair review, which is completely untrue. I'm going to give you a REAL review, unlike this horrible excuse of a critic. Steven Universe is a cartoon about a boy named Steven, who is part of the Crystal Gems. There are three crystal gems besides Steven, Amethyst, Garnet, and Pearl. These characters promote DIVERSITY, not stereotypes like Emily said (btw Emily, those stereotypes are only stereotypes to you, racist. As a proud African American, I am HAPPY about the characters in this show.). Garnet is the leader of the Crystal Gems. She has a calm demeanor and is like a teacher to Steven. Pearl is the second oldest member of the Crystal Gems, and she acts as a mother to Steven. She is extremely smart and agile, and seems like a good role model for kids. Amethyst is the second youngest member of the Crystal Gems. She is like a friend or sister to Steven, and she has the most fun with him. She is a fun and easygoing character. Steven is the youngest member of the Crystal Gems. He is still young and can get himself into trouble at times, but he is also determined and caring to everybody around him. He is a good role model to younger kids. The show itself does contain violence, but there is absolutely no blood or gore whatsoever. Most of the violence revolves around the Crystal Gems fighting monsters that threaten their town, because they are protectors of the universe. The show has great animation and plot lines that are easy for younger kids to follow, but the show also has an overarching storyline that older kids can enjoy too. I don't really get where this critic got the language and sex from, I watched 4 episodes with my 3 younger siblings and saw nothing of the sort, the show is very kid-friendly in those areas. The only downside to this show is the fact that Steven is meant to relate to younger kids, and older kids 15+ years old might find him irritating at times. Overall, this is a good show that deserves a higher review than it currently has. 2 stars is completely unacceptable considering the quality of this show. I would definitely recommend this show to other people, I know my siblings absolutely loved this show and they won't stop taking about it! EDIT- Oh, and I just realized Emily also said "Pulling her weapon from her cleavage" Emily, you obviously missed the point there too. She is pulling her weapon from her HEART, and no, no cleavage in the slightest is shown.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Adult Written byemilylynng January 13, 2015
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Everything you should ACTUALLY know about Steven Universe, okay?

I was so blown away by how bad the top review for this show was so I made an account: Hello, My name is Emily, I'm not a soccer mom, and here's everything you should know about Steven Universe that most moms wouldn't find in a Common Sense Media review: Steven Universe is the first cartoon on Cartoon Network to be written by a woman. Anyone who is saying the show perpetuates race or gender stereotypes either a. Hasn't watched the show or b. "watched it" by having it on in the background while cooking hamburgerhelper and isn't paying attention. The series is about a band of mystical interstellar fighters, The Crystal Gems, and young Steven, a half-Gem by his late mother, fighting monsters while Steven grows into himself and learns more about himself, his mother, and his destiny. All of the physically strong characters in this show self-identify as female. They are NOT, however, women-they are gems. They are not human. They take on a physical form of their choice. There is nothing WRONG with curvaceous women. I applaud this show for having female-bodied people with varying shapes and so should you. Amethyst and Garnet both present themselves as people of color (POC), a catch all for "ethnic" where ethnicity is not implied, and have bodies you don't see often in cartoons (or in the media, for that matter) . Amethyst is not dressed inappropriately-she dresses how young people normally dress ; an off-the-shoulder blouse above a tank top is not scandalous. Garnet is voiced by a British POC and, despite appearing as a black woman, is arguably the strongest and most level-headed of the Gems. Her body is never sexualized and, though stoic, has had whole episodes dedicated to her power to love. She has been called the leader of the group, so imagine. Pearl is tall,flat chested, and thin , a body type a lot of girls also find in themselves that they can't always find in media in a positive light, and is educated and graceful. She displays some social anxiety and traits of OCD that, instead of hindering her or making her unlikeable, actually make her achievements and contributions to her team all the more impressive. As someone who grew up with a learning disability and social anxiety, I enjoy Pearl's character a lot. These are NOT "tropes", they are character traits, and it's important your kids have diverse representation to look up to. Steven is a great role model for children. Hopeful and upbeat, nothing ever, ever gets Steven down. Even when Steven fails in an episode-and he does-the Gems are sure to reassure him, since failure is the best way to learn. This doesn't make him annoying, it makes him human and relatable to your kids, who are goofy and fallable. Steven also challenges gender norms. While displaying an innocent love interest in (POC!) human girl Connie and having a boyish love of video games and explosions, he isn't afraid to embrace the cute and pink-his Gem is Rose Quartz so he brands a pink shield and pink lion, and won't hesitate to call something like a cartoon animal "cute". A little mind-blowing to some parents, but I believe the right ones can appreciate the message that colors and things don't equal "being gay". The relationship dynamics are also great and, for a show about freakin alien humanoid gems, pretty darn realistic. Steven is raised by the Gems. It's unclear why-hints are made that it's to make sure he gets the proper instruction he needs as a Gem, or that his father Greg isn't in a situation to raise him- but the Gems are great parents, if awkward, given their limited know-how on humans, but what parents are perfect? While Greg does not live with his son, and ebbs out a meager existence as an owner of a car wash, he's seen in several episodes giving Steven fatherly advice and disciplining him when he needs it. I think its great that we are given a unique family perspective in a kids show. Not all families are nuclear and this doesn't have to make them bad; not all children live with their fathers, but this does not have to keep them from having a healthy relationship with them. Hell, I wish my Dad was as approachable as Greg, who seems to be the progenitor of Steven's "never give up" attitude. Stevens never shows anything but pride in his Gem family or his father. In the episode where he meets Connie's parents for the first time, two married well-to-do people, he brings his whole family and expresses anger at the idea that anyone would be "ashamed" of them. As for the deceased mother, well, she gave up her life to bring Steven into existence. Rose Quartz expressed a love for all living things, and humility, and is inherited in Steven, who gradually tries to subdue and convert monsters to good instead of destroying them. That's some beautiful stuff. The other characters in Steven's town are also fun and diverse, many POC. Any "sexualization" you've heard of in the show, as I typed this, has been hand-holding and dancing. That's it. Nothing you wouldn't find anywhere else. No blood or death in the series except for post-show death of mother, and the monsters aren't even "killed"-they are captured and stored away. As a young person and lover of animation, I can't push this show enough. Music is beautiful, animation is an actual pleasure to your eyes worthy of being called art, episodes range from goofy and fun to heart-warming and moving, and a range of ages-your baby to your elem. school aged child to your tween or teen-can be in the same room to watch this and, honestly, will love it the OLDER they are. You should probably watch it too. I plan on being a stay-at-home mom and watching it with my kids one day. If you think children's entertainment shouldn't engage your kids at all and just jingle keys in their face while you fumble with a car seat, or are backwards enough to dislike interracial coupes or strong black women or people wearing whatever they want or boys wearing pink, that's one thing, but it's an A+ great show for our times, I want it to get more support so we can have more like it because, honestly, it's what we deserve.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written byemykat183 November 7, 2013
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

An amazing show with great morals and lots of love!

My young age rating isn't because I think it's bad, on the contrary, as a teenager I really like this show, and I rather have my little siblings watch this than something like 'Jake and the Neverland pirates' or *shiver* 'Yo Gaba Gaba' because this show is engaging, and it talks to kids like intelligent, and always learning human beings, which, they are. I watched it with my 5 year old sister, my 7 year old brother, and my 9 year old brother. We all liked and enjoyed it. The younger kids can watch the bright happy colors, the silly songs, adorable jokes and characters, and be content and happy well soaking up good story, morals, and pure fun and action. The older kids can focus on the interesting story aspects, the beautiful screen art, and the great voice acting, not to mention the heart breaking backstories, something we have already seen in play from just the first few episodes. (And I can’t wait for more ^-^) My favorite part about the show and what I’ve seen of it, is that it acknowledges certain things that kid shows don’t normally, like yes, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Look at Steven, his mom died and he’s being raised by his mom’s old friends because his dad is kinda a deadbeat. But Steven keeps a bright and positive attitude in the cold world. And because he smiles and loves life, and keeps moving, he always comes out saving the day. That’s an important message to send to kids who have fallen on hard times. Life is tough and scary, but life is also bright and happy, and you should love being alive no matter who you are because things will always get better, and you are important and can help things get better! Steven is an amazing role model, and the shows message is so sweet it’s almost cheesy! But some people might be opposed to the show because of the violence, when we first meet the gems they are straight up murdering a bunch of worm monsters. Steven’s response to this is that he finds the worm monsters cool, and thinks they should keep them as pets, but then a worm monster spits an acid puddle on the floor, burning a hole that looks down in the lower levels of the building, and well, they don’t keep the monsters as pets. Would you? All the violence really seems to be directed at monsters who seek to kill, which really isn’t that bad. If anything, my younger siblings found it to be pretty awesome, as did I. However the violence is quite tame, and hardly present, and not to intense, as the monsters disappear out thin air when destroyed, and bigger monsters leave behind ‘gems’ as a sort of war prize when destroyed, but also seem to disappear. Others may dislike the show because of the ads. And I was very nearly in that category. You see after months of awful ads depicting a horrible show by the name of ‘Uncle Grandpa’ many cn fans lost all faith in cartoon networks choice of shows. It was actually kinda insulting. You’d just get finished with a bomb shell reveal from ‘Adventure Time’ you know what I mean AT fans, those sudden shocking moments that tell you something about the characters and the overall plot that come within the last second of the episode, those ones that leave you staring at the screen wishing you could time travel to next Monday to find out what the heck just happened, but knowing in your heart that you can’t, and even if you did, you’d find that next week’s episode had nothing to do with what you just watched. Then as you’re gawking in shock at the screen, he comes out. Uncle Grandpa. “Good morning” Remember those word cn fans? I do, and I’m still annoyed when I hear them today. *sigh* I’m ranting. Back on topic, uncle grandpa came out, and I watched it just to see if maybe it was good, it wasn't. Many people had the same experience, and many lost faith that cartoon network would ever produce another good show. Then we start seeing ‘Steven Universe’ ads. Still completely hurt by uncle grandpa, I personally was wary of watching this new silly looking show, and frankly kinda scared of the now seemingly abusive relationship I have formed with cartoon network. But, when my siblings wanted to watch the show with me, I braced myself for what could possibly be another punch to the face from my favorite channel. Going in with low and hesitant expectations, I readied myself in a mental flinch. But I was pleasantly surprised. Cartoon Network, why did I ever doubt you? So what I’m trying to say here, is watch the show, give it a chance at least! I really liked it and I think you will to! And if not, it’s still perfectly appropriate for kids of all ages, is full of good messages, and interesting stories, and of no threat to you or your family. Not to mention, it’s full of beautiful art and great characters and plot! This is emykat183, signing off and wishing you a happy viewing! ;)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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