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.