TV Features

Thank You for Everything, "Steven Universe"

What to say about a cartoon that's given us so much...

Here we are in the future, and it's been one wild ride.

Cartoon Network

With its many landmark episodes featuring diversity, mental health, and representation, Steven Universe has proven to be one of the most thoughtful and inclusive shows on TV.

The show has officially reached its conclusion in the final episodes of Steven Universe Future, wherein the eponymous Steven is undergoing some severe growing pains. With the series having come to a close, there's no better time for fans to express how grateful we are for all that it's done. Personally, even though it's a children's cartoon, Steven Universe has meant so much to me in my adult years. Series creator Rebecca Sugar and their team consistently used the show as a vehicle for inclusion, and its timely messages have made me feel seen and heard like no other show before it. Watching Steven Universe has truly been a life-changing experience for its viewers, and all we can do is thank the show for everything it gave us.

Now, where to start?

Steven and Connie's fusion is a firm representation for the transgender experience.Cartoon Network


Thank you for giving us Stevonnie

In a show that consistently blurs the line between gendered constructs, Stevonnie is the perfect representation of Steven Universe's ideals. As a physical fusion of Steven and his female friend Connie, they are a being that transcends the concept of gender to begin with. They're a confident presence and a wonderful role model for trans people. They're also heroic, valiant, and capable of exploring their identity in healthy and productive ways.

In Stevonnie's debut episode, "Alone Together," Stevonnie tests the waters of their new form by interacting with Steven's friends and family and going out for a night on the town. They explore their new identity, ask themselves questions, and become more informed of who they are through conversations with others. Stevonnie is a prominent example of intersex representation, and their ongoing development allows them to further understand what being Stevonnie—and beyond the gender binary—means.

(Personally, I'll always appreciate Steven Universe for giving me outlets like Stevonnie to help me understand my gender identity. One year, for New York Comic Con, I even cosplayed as Stevonnie. It felt so right to embody someone whose gender exploration very nearly lined up with my own, and it's a cosplay I'll always be proud to have worn.)

Ruby and Sapphire stand at the altar Few children's shows have been as bold as to show a marriage like this.Cartoon Network


Thank you for the lovely lesbian wedding

Too many other shows conflate LGBTQ+ storylines with "mature content." For the longest time, audiences, especially younger LGBTQ+ ones in the process of finding their identities, couldn't get that kind of representation in any show without at least a TV-14 rating. But there's no reason that two people getting married, regardless of gender, needs to be portrayed as "mature," and Steven Universe's marriage between two women completely shatters any argument to the contrary.

When Garnet, the Crystal Gems' leader, was revealed to be a fusion, we learned that her strength and wisdom come from the love between the two Gems who comprise her. To that end, Ruby and Sapphire's wedding is nothing short of iconic. The entire episode was reserved to let these two hopelessly-in-love gems to join each other in matrimony. As every character prepared for the wedding, the show celebrated an unabashed on-screen marriage in a show that's accessible to everyone. Once upon a time, it was unthinkable for a children's show to display a scene like this. Steven Universe shining an enormous spotlight on their pride sets a new bar for other shows to do the same in the future.

Lars mans the register at his own bakery Lars is one of few prominent Filipino characters in media today.Cartoon Network


Thank you for all the diverse racial representation

Between the show's characters and its real-life voice cast, Steven Universe has never shied away from diverse racial representation. People of color proudly fill a cast as colorful as, well, gemstones, as they work to illustrate a world as diverse as ours.

I, for one, am especially proud of all the Filipinix personalities. From Filipina voice actors like Deedee Magno Hall and Shelby Rabara as major characters Pearl and Peridot respectively to the quick reference to Lars' heritage when he made an ube roll, seeing my own culture receive such enormous visibility made me validated and happy.

Garnet and Stevonnie meditate The show has often presented itself as an outlet for emotional and mental health.Cartoon Network


Thank you for the guidelines on managing emotional health

The characters in Steven Universe experience a lot of hardships. Whether it be PTSD, struggles with growing up, or any form of dysphoria, the Crystal Gems are almost always dealing with some heavy emotional baggage. Steven Universe Future displays this prominently, as Steven himself struggles with the many ongoing changes in his life and has to work through both the physical and mental trauma that he's collected over the years. His growing powers are synced up to his turbulent emotional states, resulting in outbursts that cause more damage than he expects.

But rather than offering a simple solution to everyone's complex problems, Steven Universe prioritizes ways of working through them in our daily lives. Songs like "Here Comes a Thought" and arcs where even the show's most stoic characters become emotionally vulnerable are perfect examples of how this cartoon portrays healthy coping mechanisms. It never tries to be a one-stop shop for emotional recovery, nor does it try to limit anyone's trauma to a solitary explanation. Steven Universe simply states that your struggles are valid and that you can work through them.

Steven accepts a celebratory bouquet Celebrating every single one of the show's accomplishment's is no easy task.Cartoon Network

Simply speaking, it's impossible to overstate the kind of pillar Steven Universe has become for important social concepts and marginalized communities. So as we reach the show's long-deserved conclusion, expressing heartfelt gratitude will need to suffice.

Thank you for all the memorable characters and heartfelt moments. Thanks to Rebecca Sugar and their fellow creators for introducing us to this world. Thank you for everything you've done, Steven Universe. Thank you for being bold and groundbreaking, from beginning to end.

TV

The 50 Best TV Shows of the Decade

Did your favorites make the list?

The 2010s saw the advent of binge-watching.

Thanks to streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, it was suddenly possible to watch multiple episodes of a single TV series in one sitting without the interruptions of commercials. As the way we watched TV changed, so too did the kind of shows we watched. Gone was the overabundance of vapid, sugary-sweet sitcoms, and in came the era of political satire, dramatic comedies, and searing commentaries on everything from abortion to Hollywood. Summarily, the 2010s saw a golden age of television. Here are our 50 favorites, with the top 25 and bottom 25 listed in alphabetical order.

The Top 25 TV Shows of the 2010s

Atlanta

Atlanta Donald Glover

Atlanta first aired in 2016, with Donald Glover's Earn learning that his cousin Alfred has released a hit song under the stage name Paper Boi. Since then, the show has followed Earn's struggle to navigate different worlds as he takes over managing his cousin's burgeoning music career while also trying to be a good father to his daughter, Lottie, and to prove himself to Van, his ex-girlfriend and Lottie's mother. The show uses varying perspectives to flesh out the city of Atlanta and the complexities of being black in America with surreal touches that highlight the real-world absurdity. Yet despite the heaviness of much of its subject matter, it frequently manages to be among the funniest shows on TV.

Barry

Barry Bill Hader

For anyone who ever wondered whether or not SNL-alum Bill Hader could carry a serious TV show, Barry answers with an overwhelming "yes." To be clear, Barry is technically a dark comedy, or perhaps a crime comedy-drama, but Bill Hader brings a level of unprecedented seriousness to his titular character that oftentimes makes the show feel like a straight tragedy.

Playing a hitman who wants to leave his life of crime behind in order to pursue a career in acting, Bill Hader imbues Barry with an earnestness that makes us as an audience truly want him to succeed. This likability serves to make Barry's violent acts all the more disturbing. Barry's greatest success is its ability to effortlessly fluctuate between the quirks of life as a struggling actor in LA and the violent inclinations of a man who murders for a living and can never really escape that truth. It's one of the best character studies currently on TV and is sure to cement Bill Hader as an extremely versatile A-list talent.

Baskets

Baskets Zacj Galifianakis

Baskets premiered on FX in 2016, telling the story of Chip Baskets, an aspiring clown played by Zach Galifianakis, who is moving back to Bakersfield, California to live with his mother after a failed stint at clown school in Paris. Galfianakis' talent for melancholy slapstick makes the show by turns hilarious and touching, but it's his mother Christine Baskets—artfully portrayed by Louie Anderson—whose simple enthusiasm for small-town life makes the show one of the best of the decade. Watching Christine, Chip, and his twin brother Dale (also Galifianakis) heighten relatable family drama to exquisite absurdity never gets old.

Black Mirror

Nothing would be the same without Black Mirror. Though its later seasons have been inconsistent in quality, its earliest contributions were digital horror at its finest, with some of the episodes being downright visionary in terms of how accurately they predicted the near future. From the nostalgic visions of virtual afterlife in "San Junipero" to the eerie foresight of "Nosedive" and its digital ranking systems, Black Mirror made an indelible impact.

Bob's Burgers

Bob's Burgers

Whatever you've heard about Family Guy or South Park, Bob's Burgers is the true successor to the golden age of The Simpsons. The Belcher family offers an update to The Simpsons' satirical view on middle class family life that reflects how America has changed since the 90s—slightly more urban, with less overt child abuse and a lot more economic precarity. And just as with the best seasons of The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers maintains a touching core of familial love and solidarity amid the absurd hijinks and veiled political commentary. Throw in the added value of the frequently hilarious, occasionally moving musical numbers, and Bob's Burgers easily secures a spot as one of the best shows of the decade.

Bojack Horseman

Bojack Horseman

In terms of the quality of its writing, BoJack Horseman outdid itself season after season. What began as a parody of Hollywood's excesses quickly turned into a searing, and boundary-pushing meditation on depression, addiction, and what it means to change (or to be unable to). Increasingly self-aware and conscious of its hypocritical tendency to obsess over the misadventures of an evil but sympathetic celebrity, thereby glorifying them while criticizing them, BoJack Horseman is the political, devastating, timely, often hilarious show about an animated horse that none of us knew we needed. It's buoyed by the strength of its secondary characters, from the workaholic Princess Carolyn to asexual Todd to self-loathing Diane, and altogether the show takes deep-rooted fears that many share and refracts them in a funhouse mirror that's impossible to look away from.

Broad City

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson began producing an independent web series about their struggles to "make it" in New York City in 2009. Soon, Amy Poehler took interest in the series, and it moved to Comedy Central in 2014. The smash hit comedy was not only laugh-out-loud funny, but a beautiful portrait of a genuinely healthy, supportive female friendship—something TV has historically seen little of. Broad City can be credited for helping to usher in a new generation of female comedy creators and has become a cultural touchstone for millenials.

Catastrophe

catastrophe rob delaney

Catastrophe, created and written by the show's stars, Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, is one of the realest, grossest, and funniest takes on love and the mess of life. Two people entering middle age meet and hit it off, they spend a reckless night together, and when she gets pregnant, they decide to make things work—not realizing how complicated that will be. It's a simple enough premise, but the cutting dialogue and the absurd comedy that plays out as two near-strangers build a life together make Catastrophe one of a kind.

Fargo

Anthology series like True Detective and American Horror Story can be really hit or miss, but in the three seasons that have aired on FX since 2014, Fargo has been consistently great. Maybe it has to do with the leisurely production schedule, the all-star cast, or the near-perfect movie that forms the basis for its tone, but whatever the cause, Fargo delivers murderous midwestern tragicomedy better than any show on TV—and nearly as well as the original. Season three, which followed the rivalry of the Stussy brothers—as played by Ewan McGregor—deserves a particular call-out, with season four due next year and featuring Chris Rock, Timothy Olyphant, and Jason Schwartzman.

Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's stage-play-turned-two-season-TV masterpiece took the world by storm at the end of the 2010s. In the series, the viewer is made into the protagonist's (an unnamed woman played by Bridge) confidante as she uses sex to cope with grief and complicated family dynamics. As the show progresses, the closely protected inner life of the protagonist begins to reveal itself. Many consider the second season to be an essentially perfect season of television, in large part because of the hot priest (played by Andrew Scott). Fleabag is a funny, searing commentary on what it means to exist as a sexual, complicated being in a world with ever-changing expectations of women.

Grace and Frankie

70 is the new 30, or 20, or whatever arbitrary year of life we as a culture are deciding to glorify for no reason, because age is just a number. If you weren't aware that Jane Fonda glowed with money or that Lily Tomlin is our collective spiritual mother, then Grace and Frankie enlightened you. When two septuagenarian women are told that their husbands are gay and in love with each other, the best phase of their lives begins.

Haikyu!!

Haikyu!!

It's almost 2020, the world is upside down, and yes, an anime about high school volleyball is genuinely one of the best shows of the decade. Haikyu!!, literally "Volleyball" in Japanese, is about the trials and tribulations of the Karasuno High School Boys Volleyball Team. Unlike pretty much every other high school sports anime out there, Haikyu!! takes a relatively realistic approach to...well...high schoolers playing sports. In doing so, Haikyu!! translates the genuine passion that goes into high school sports and the real dynamics of teamwork, better than any other show I've ever seen.

The protagonist, Hinata, isn't a superpowered Volleyball God; he's an extremely short boy who can't reach the top of the net, but works his butt off because he loves the game. Likewise, all the other boys in Haikyu!! have realistic strengths and weaknesses (both on and off the court) that they work to overcome with help from their teammates. Haikyu!! is an exercise in wholesomeness––there are no villains, just other kids at other schools who love the same sport our boys do––and in a decade full of so much bitterness, it's a much needed dose of medicine.

Hunter x Hunter

Hunter x Hunter

For anyone who likes long-running shonen anime, Hunter x Hunter is, without a doubt, the pinnacle of the genre. While the original manga began publication in 1998, and a previous anime adaptation ran from 1999-2001, the 2011 adaptation re-started the series from scratch and, most importantly, covered the Chimaera Ant arc (or season––kind of––for you non-anime watchers).

The entirety of Hunter x Hunter is fantastic, featuring likeable protagonists, dastardly villains, and a brilliantly creative power system called "Nen." But there's a reason the Chimaera Ant arc is often considered the greatest shonen arc ever, and that's because it's a total deconstruction of the genre's tropes and conventions. Everything from the "always optimistic protagonist" to "the ultimate evil villain" is turned completely inside-out. The Chimaera Ant arc is intensely brutal and ultimately poignant, making us question the very nature of what makes us human.

Killing Eve

Phoebe Waller-Bridge can do no wrong, and even if she could and did, I'd probably still clap. The combination of Waller-Bridge's cutting wit and Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer's flawless performances makes for a TV show that never quite lets you find your balance before sending you spinning again. It's dark and surreal, while managing to still be deeply human.

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Being a professional stand-up comedienne is hard, but being Midge Maisel is wrapping chaos in a designer dress. Created by the fast-talking husband and wife behind Gilmore Girls, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel created a stage for Rachel Brosnahan to showcase her comedic timing and Alex Borstein to be a solid, deadpan pillar within Mrs. Maisel's world of quippy, fast-talking, energy. Also Michael Zegen (Joel) is dead cute.

Mob Psycho 100

While One Punch Man might be manga artist One's best known series (and is fantastic in its own right), his other series, Mob Psycho 100, is profound in a way quite unlike anything else I've seen. The show revolves around Mob, an awkward, unconfident middle school boy with god-like psychic powers. Any other shonen anime would use this premise as a gateway to epic battles (and there are a few, and their animation is absolutely incredible), but Mob Psycho 100 focuses far more on the coming-of-age angle instead.

See, Mob doesn't like his psychic powers because they make him feel weird. So instead of focusing on the one thing he's innately talented at but doesn't like, Mob tries to improve himself in the ways he actually cares about improving––making friends, talking to girls, working out with his school's Body Improvement Club. If anything, Mob's incredible psychic powers are a backdrop for the show's larger message––that no person, no matter what natural abilities they may have, is better than anyone else. Mob Psycho 100 shows that everyone has their own struggles, and that the only person you should ever hold yourself up in comparison to is the person you were yesterday.

The OA

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij's labyrinthine show only ran for two seasons, but it managed to earn a cult following during that time. Deeply weird, profoundly earnest, and full to the brim with observations on the connections between the environment, parallel universes, and technology, the two seasons that we do have are irreplaceable and paradigm-shifting examples of what TV could become, if we let ourselves believe.

Orange Is the New Black

Orange is the New Black

Piper Kerman's post-grad rebellious stage went from a felony to a cultural touchstone. As Netflix's most-watched original series, OITNB boasted a female-led cast and cutting commentary on race, class, and the industrial prison complex.

PEN15

Those who didn't have a gruelingly awkward middle school experience are, by scientific evidence, simply inhuman. Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle tell it best in Hulu original PEN15, which co-stars the real-life BFFs (who also wrote and executive produced together) as 13-year-olds. Here, there's no sugarcoating the calamities of tweenhood, whether they're as trivial as thongs and AIM messaging or as weighty as race identity. All delivered with Erskine and Konkle's razor-sharp wit, it's absolutely hysterical to anyone who's lived past the seventh grade.

Rick and Morty

"To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty. The humour is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics most of the jokes will go over a typical viewer's head."

Okay, so first things first, we need to separate Rick and Morty from the Rick and Morty fandom. The Rick and Morty fandom is so annoying that memes making fun of them are barely distinguishable from the things they actually say. But, to be fair, Rick and Morty really is a great show full of smart writing, surprisingly deep characterization, and the exact kind of bizarre, abstract humor that lends itself perfectly to endless memes. No doubt, Rick and Morty will be the defining animated comedy of the 2010s.

Russian Doll

This tightly-wound and big-hearted thriller stars Natasha Lyonne as a jaded New Yorker who gets caught in a loop in time and has to relive the night of her 36th birthday party over and over again. A perfect blend of humor and seriousness, and riddled with quantum leaps and profound connections, it's as satisfying as it is provocative.

Shameless

Shameless

We fell in love with the trainwreck family the Gallaghers when it debuted on Showtime in 2011. William H. Macy brought so much toxic charm to the abusive and neglectful father Frank Gallagher that we actually found him, if not likable, then good television. Emmy Rossum managed to cause tears and laughter within the same scene, and the entire cast was as impressive as their characters were appalling.

Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)

After the first season of Attack on Titan premiered in 2013, it received so much hype that even people outside of the anime community were raving about it. The show featured an incredibly high-concept premise, following the last surviving humans as they tried to fight back against giant, man-eating monsters called Titans. Had Attack on Titan stuck to that premise, it would have been top-notch action-horror, albeit not necessarily one of the best shows of the decade.

But Attack on Titan turned out to be so much bigger than its initial premise. As the seasons progressed, Attack on Titan reshaped itself time and time again, leading viewers through an increasingly complex, expertly plotted narrative featuring some of the most compelling characters and intensely emotional moments that I've ever experienced in fiction. At its core, Attack on Titan is a deeply thematic contemplation on war, othering, and humanity's will to survive against impossible odds, alongside the moral sacrifices they oftentimes make to do so.

Shrill

It shouldn't be revolutionary for a show to feature a fat female lead, but it is. Shrill, the brilliant Hulu adaptation of Lindy West's memoir, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, gave audiences a badly needed narrative about a woman who is actively seeking to change her life for the better, in ways that have nothing to do with her body. It's funny, it's heartfelt, and it shows a woman getting an abortion and finding it empowering. Woah. Hell yes.

Steven Universe

When Steven Universe first aired on Cartoon Network in 2013, it was a light-hearted and silly children's show with some super-powered action from the Crystal Gems and a lot of silly jokes from their sidekick—the childish titular character. Since then an entire galaxy has been fleshed out around the boardwalk of Beach City where much of the show takes place. Along with the alien gem creatures and their elaborate history, the show has introduced us to a cast of characters that have grown and changed—overcoming insecurities and facing complex questions of love and identity. While Steven matured and developed into a hero worthy of his last name, the show evolved to become one of the best of the decade.

25-50 Top TV Shows of the 2010s

  • American Horror Story
  • Archer
  • Big Mouth
  • Community
  • Homeland
  • Inside Amy Schumer
  • iZombie
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Jessica Jones
  • Justified
  • Last Week Tonight
  • Love
  • Stranger Things
  • Suits
  • The Good Place
  • The Newsroom
  • This Is Us
  • True Detective
  • Unreal

VeepThe 5 Worst TV Shows of the 2010s9-1-1

  • Chicago PD
  • Daybreak
  • Once Upon a Time
  • What/If
TV

What Steven’s New Powers Mean for “Steven Universe: Future”

The first four episodes introduced three new powers that have big implications for the rest of the series.

In the first four episodes of Steven Universe: Future, a ton has already happened.

rose quartz

Even though the premiere episodes were relatively relaxed—lots of emotional drama and growth, but no monsters or planet-threatening events—the series seems to be set up for some amazing developments. Just for a start, Pearl has a new bond with the permanently damaged Pink Pearl—they even fused!—Steven cemented his awkward-but-loving siblinghood with the Rose Quartzes, a tense armistice (with potential for collaboration) has been established with Jasper, and we saw further proof that onion is an immortal and indestructible being. Oh yeah, and Steven discovered three incredible new powers!

onion flames

First, in "Little Homeschool" there was the defensive skin shield that spread around his entire body when he was battling Jasper. Defensive seems to be the operative word. He had gone to her intending to offer some help, but as soon as she got the chance to fight him, she used his concern for others—for baby birds in this case—to find an opening, then she got him pinned. At that point she renounced the idea that he could ever help her, saying "You think everyone needs help! But it's only you. No one is as pitiful as you." Ouch…

defensive steven

Understandably, this triggered something in Steven. With a look of rage on his face that we've never seen before, a pink layer of bubble spread across his skin, and he was suddenly able to fight back with a lot more power, and he actually won some grudging respect from Jasper—who nonetheless refuses to acknowledge him as an incarnation of her diamond. No one else has the venom for Steven that Jasper does, so it took a confrontation with her to bring out this defensive side of him, but once it was unlocked it revealed more power—not all of it good.

smoky quartz time freeze

Next, in "Guidance," Steven's newfound power revealed a new ability for Smoky Quartz—his fusion with Amethyst—as well. With Steven's pushy plans for new immigrants from the Gem Homeworld going awry, a rollercoaster is about to go flying off the tracks, and he and Amethyst fuse to try to save it. Smoky Quartz realizes they're not going to make it on time and starts freaking out—and maybe getting a little defensive?—when the same pink skin shield spreads around them, but with a new development. They are suddenly moving so fast that time seems to stand still, and they are able to save everyone on the roller coaster—except onion, who is immortal and indestructible.

onion gif

Finally, in "Volleyball," Steven has opened a clinic for treating damaged gems, and there seem to be a whole lot of them—maybe they're getting damaged on purpose? His healing spit is doing its work until Pink Pearl comes in with her cracked face. His healing powers can't fix this damage, because it isn't a reflection of any damage to her gem—it's something deeper. Pearl suggests taking Pink Pearl to The Reef—a facility that can purportedly fix any Pearl.

When even the Reef can't fix her, and Steven is confronted by the fact that his mother's violent temper is responsible for this deeper, psychological damage, he again becomes defensive. The shield skin forms, and then he demonstrates exactly what one of his mother's temper tantrums would have looked like. He lets out a shout that becomes a shockwave and destroys the reef, setting off a series of events that the three just barely survive.

pearls fusing

It remains to be seen how Steven will gain control of his new, temperamental powers. They will likely cause a lot more problems before he fully learns to use them. Or perhaps—like his mother—he will learn to tamp down his defensive impulse. Whatever the case, it seems certain that, along with these major new powers, we can expect some major new problems in the next three weeks.

TV

How to Watch and What to Expect for the "Steven Universe: Future" Premiere

With four brand new episodes premiering Saturday at 8:00, you'd better make sure you're ready

It's finally here!

After the announcement, the trailer, and all the teaser art, the anticipation was killing us. But now December 7th is upon us, and the premier of the first four full episodes of Steven Universe: Future is about to deliver some sweet escape from dull dark reality with a glimpse into Beach City and a new era of peace and liberation, thanks to Steven and the Crystal Gems. What new enemies will arise to threaten this hard-won stability, and what lessons will Steven have to learn to take them on? Also, did they ever bring back Cookie Cat? Because Lion Lickers just aren't cutting it.

Steven Universe - Toon Tunes: Cookie Cat Rap www.youtube.com

All these questions and more are finally about to be answered…for those of us who have cable. Unfortunately for the millennial cable cutters who make up a big portion of the Steven Universe fanbase, until next spring rolls around, there isn't really a great way to stream Cartoon Network content. You could always find a source to pirate the episodes, but apart from the legal issues, you'll have to find a way to sleep at night while knowing that you stole the hard creative work of Rebecca Sugar and all their collaborators.

rebecca sugar, zach callison, deedee magno, and michaela dietz You monster!

If you have it in your budget, and know you're going to watch these episodes over and over, Amazon already has a "season pass" available. If you don't, then you might want to find a friend with cable, and just watch it with them. And if you're reading this with 8:00 PM approaching, and you're scrambling for an option, there are a number of Live TV services with Cartoon Network access that offer free trial periods. Just don't blame me if you forget to cancel…

If you aren't convinced, and think you might still wait for who knows how long to watch these episodes when they finally come to Hulu or Netflix, here are the episode descriptions for Saturday's premiere, along with a first look clip of Steven being a sort of social worker for a restored Jasper, just to whet your appetite:

Steven Universe Future - First Look (Clip) www.youtube.com

"Little Homeschool"

Welcome to Little Homeschool, a place on earth where Gems from all over the universe can come learn how to live together peacefully! But there's one Gem who refuses to attend.

"Guidance"

Amethyst has been helping Little Homeschool Gems find jobs on the boardwalk, but Steven isn't sure about her approach.

"Rose Buds"

Steven gets a surprise visit from some old friends, and an even more surprising introduction to some new ones.

"Volleyball"

Steven is determined to help Pink Diamond's original Pearl heal the scar on her face.

FILM

What We Know About "Steven Universe: Future" So Far

The Latest Sneak Peak Gave Us a Ton To Think About, But Not a Lot of Answers

Fans of Steven Universe were no doubt delighted by the news at this year's Comic Con that Rebecca Sugar's iconic world would be continuing with an epilogue called Steven Universe: Future.

But until now, that title and a little bit of teasing artwork was all the news we'd received about the upcoming limited series. Today, finally, we got our first sneak peak at Future, and it really is looking bright.

It's been nearly a year now since the fifth and final standard season of Steven Universe concluded with the apparent achievement of universal everlasting peace. Having recovered their lost, beloved Pink Diamond in the form of a small, half-human boy, the Diamonds' whole worldview was shaken. The framework of unquestioned superiority that had guided their rule was suddenly invalidated. They dissolved their society's rigid hierarchy and acknowledged the value of organic life. War and conquest are off the table, and gem technology will bring a new Utopian era to earth. Huzzah! Every problem is fixed and all the characters can now live in peace and love and freedom into eternity.

For a show with a well-earned reputation for tackling the complexity and nuance of interpersonal drama, it seemed a bit strange for events to be wrapped up so tidily. It's a sentiment that was perfectly captured in September by the song "Happily Ever After," that played in the first moments of Steven Universe: The Movie. "Here we are in the future, and it's bright. Nothing to fear, no one to fight." But no sooner was this sense of a happy ending established than Spinel was introduced and new drama ensued, showing the way for the franchise to grow moving forward. There are loose ends galore, and in the upcoming limited series Steven Universe: Future Steven will have the work of handling those, but also, "as he runs out of other people's problems to solve, he'll finally have to face his own."

steven universe future threats

That leaves a lot of room for Steven's romantic life, his questions of identity, and his private ambitions to be explored—not to mention his own messy history with the tribe of Watermelon Stevens, etc. It's not yet clear which of his personal problems will come into focus in Future, but we do have clues about some of the other problems he'll be facing.

Let's start with the frame of a generally better life in Beach City and the rest of the universe, with gems finding new ways to live, be free, and have fun on earth—yoga and art and new fusions galore. "Happily Ever After" echoes throughout the snippets of Future we've received so far, but the new sneak peak emphasizes Steven's misplaced optimism in believing that "soon, we'll all be able to put the past behind us." Dissolving the old hierarchy does not erase history. There are ancient grievances that we've never even heard of—as with Spinel, abandoned in Pink's garden—and there are grievances from within the show's established canon that may not be so easily forgotten. Enter Jasper.

jasper

Jasper is a toxic gem. Abusive and domineering, she has internalized the hierarchy of gem society to such a degree that she can't conceive of personal value or identity in any other terms. Fusions are beneath her, imperfect gems are beneath her, biological creatures are far beneath her, and Rose Quartz—who upset the natural order and remade herself into a half-biological creature—is absolute scum. For Jasper, it's not such an easy thing to let go of those ideas on the basis that this scum, this fundamental enemy of her values, is now being held up as Pink Diamond—Jasper's lost matriarch. And now the fact that her gem is corrupted is likely to only exacerbate her resentment. Her manic laughter rings out in the new video, along with the defiant declaration "You are not my diamond!"

pearls

Jasper will clearly represent a significant threat in Future, but she's not the only character fans are buzzing about. Perhaps even more interesting is the mystery of the damaged Pink Pearl. She was previously taken from Pink Diamond—before our familiar Pearl replaced her—and has since served under White Diamond. She has large fractures of unknown origin covering half her face, and in the sneak peak, we catch a glimpse of those fractures spreading across her face. No doubt the drama of her past and the question of how she will be incorporated into the new world will be another focus of Future.

Beyond that, there are still a lot of questions to be answered, but it's exciting to see so many new and wild fusions, and gem technology transforming life on earth—for the better this time. The release date hasn't been specified beyond the vague promise that it's "coming soon." Hopefully a date will be forthcoming, because "soon" can't come soon enough!

Twitter has been abuzz today about which cartoon theme song is best.

This is no doubt a ploy by Disney to get everyone nostalgic enough to sign up for Disney+, and everyone has been predictably biased to focus on the shows that they loved when they were kids. But as someone who grew up in the 1990s—the true golden age of Saturday Morning TV—I felt the need to step in and provide the objective analysis the topic required. Without further ado, here is the definitive list of the greatest cartoon theme songs of all time. Don't even try to argue.

11. Batman: The Animated Series

This one has the distinct advantage of being composed by legendary film composer Danny Elfman, and borrows heavily from his work on Tim Burton's Batman, for which he won a Grammy. The dark, orchestral intensity sets the tone for one of the most serious and intense children's cartoons of all time.

10. Ducktales

Life is like a hurricane. If you don't already have the words "here in, Duckburg" playing in your head, you are a broken soul. Hughie Dewey and Louie, along with their uncle Scrooge, were the definition of cartoon adventure in the early 1990s, but the simple, catchy lyrics of the theme song are truly what keeps this show alive in our hearts. It's the reason I can't hear the word racecars without immediately thinking of lasers and "aeroplanes."

9. Darkwing Duck

Synthesizing the previous two entries with a duck-themed slapstick parody of the Batman universe, we have Darkwing Duck. While the content of the show was less memorable than Ducktales, the driving bassline and the high-energy vocals of the extremely 90s theme song are somehow timeless. The refrain of "When there's trouble, you call DW," and Darkwing's interlude, "Let's get dangerous," will live forever in my memory.

8. Arthur

Arthur was always kind of boring compared to other cartoons, yet I watched it a lot as a kid, because it was boring in the same way a big comfy sweater is boring on a cold day. It's a show full of sweetness and optimism, and never has a theme song so perfectly captured the hopeful and positive message of a show better than Ziggy Marley's "Believe in Yourself." You know you want to sing along to this one.

7. Gravity Falls

Gravity Falls taps into the weirdness and mystery of childhood to deliver one of the best cartoons of the past decade. And the instrumental theme song somehow manages to be eerie, mysterious, and madcap all at once, in a way that only the supernatural adventures of Dipper, Mabel, and Gruncle Stan could live up to. The snappy, fast-paced percussion combine with the playful penny whistle to instantly put me in a good mood.

6. Teen Titans

Teen Titan's Go! has gotten a lot of love and a lot of hate in recent years, the latter coming mostly from fans of the show's 2003 predecessor. Whatever you think of the two shows, there's no denying that the original show's high-energy Japanese surf rock theme song by Puffy Ami Yumi absolutely slaps. It's worthy of a listen even if you don't care about the show.

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