A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
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 see stereotypes on the surface; for example, Amethyst 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 incredible depth and their love and support for Steven is apparent, subverting any preconceived notions.
Positive Role Models
Steven is compassionate, curious, eager to learn, and creative in his problem-solving. All the Crystal Gems work closely with Steven to teach him about their shared powers. 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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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.
Is It Any Good?
Created by former Adventure Time artist/writer Rebecca Sugar, this 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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.