Growing up in the 90s, I remember when Power Rangers was the pinnacle of diversity. Showcasing a lineup of super heroes where any ethnicity or gender could save the day created a welcome change to the standard super hero motif. The diversification of a team and the issues they dealt with were able to subtly teach its teen and young audience the virtues of relationships, leadership, and being an overall good person in a changing demographic. While diversity to me, seemed complicated in the 90s, today it is on a different level.
Enter Steven Universe.
Steven Universe is a show based on a 14 year old super hero who’s objective is to save the world every week (or so). While the basis is simple, its structure is anything but. I must admit that I haven’t watched a lot of episodes of the series, but I am very familiar with it due to my interactions with females. In fact, I can’t think of any of my female friends who haven’t seen this show. After reading Study Breaks explanation, however, it makes perfect sense. Yes Steven is the main character, but his world is dictated by the women around him. He lives in a home with three females, one of which had deep feelings for his now deceased mother. In addition, there is a “fusion” process where two characters with deep relationships can combine to form another person. Steven and his human girlfriend, Connie Maheswaran, for example, can combine to create Stevonnie, a perfect fusion of sorts. As Study Break so eloquently puts it, “The fusion also raises a question for the younger viewers in the audience: Is Stevonnie a boy or a girl?”
The ability to combine real world issues with a children’s show is masterful and interesting indeed. Questions are raised without being offensive and children are able to walk away more accepting of others without realizing it. The new age of diversity is truly upon us and it is much more open then when I was small.