Beware the Slenderman

NOTE: If there is a movie, documentary, play, or book you’d like me to review please let me know. For a while I reviewed television shows but I’m way behind on all of the shows of mine I like, so I will wait to catch up on those before I seek new ones.

As several of my friends know, I tend to find unexplained mysteries, disappearances without explanation, unsolved murders, and serial killers fascinating. I just find it so interesting given modern technology how people are able to escape detection from security cameras and can get killed or go missing without anyone knowing. It also is interesting to me what goes through the mind of a criminal that allows them to commit crimes or murder(s).

One of my best friends last week told me that she had recorded a new HBO documentary called _beware the slenderman, and I was immediately intrigued by it. Being from Wisconsin, I had heard about the case when it first happened, but I hadn’t followed up on it much until fairly recently. The movie explains the crime the girls committed and describes what the home life was like for both of the girls.

In 2014 Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, two twelve year old girls stabbed and nearly murdered Payton (Bella) Leutner in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I emphasized “nearly”, because myself and most other people I have talked to had assumed Bella died from her injuries. The two claimed their actions were done to appease the fictional character Slenderman. He is an unusually tall man with a thin build, who is always seen wearing a suit, and he  generally has a blank, expressionless face. Apparently, he has “proxies” that work for him and seem to do his bidding. Both girl claimed that they were told they had to kill Bella or Slenderman would kill their family, and after killing her, they could go to the Slenderman Mansion and become said proxies. Due to the developing backstory of the character, not much more information was provided about the fictional character. However, while most people associate a malicious or creepy tone to him, some people (presumably both girls) see him as a “Guardian Angel” of sorts.

Editing is always vital for the success of a film and the way the audience perceives the actions of the people or characters in it. For example, in December 2015 when Making a Murderer was released, it helped sway a lot of people into believing that Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey were wrongfully sentenced for crimes they may or may not have committed (see my review Making a Murderer to get a deeper analysis of what I thought). When I researched the documentary at a later point, I noticed other sources saying that the documentary left out some information that would make the two men not seem as innocent as how they were portrayed. While I have no clue how accurate these claims are, it does show how important editing is in driving a narrative and what the audience will take away. In regards to the editing of _beware the slenderman, the message was great but the flow of the film could have greatly improved. As I’ve already explained, most crime documentaries or shows have an agenda of clearing someone’s name or tarnishing it further. This movie  balanced both their roles in the crime without making one seem guiltier than the other, and the interviews with each of their families also gave interesting insight to how both girls behaved throughout their earlier childhood too. It just presented what happened without really trying to sway the viewer one way or the other.However, the flow of the film could have significantly improved. It seemed jumbled and out of order. It is understandable to want to build suspense and not give out all of the information immediately, but it felt like it jumped around a lot and was hard to follow at times.

A bit of levity came during the middle of the film when my friend and I laughed at the job description given to one of the people being interviewed. By his preference, or that of the editors of the film, he was referred to as a “Digital Folklorist”. The term folklore is often meant to describe traditions and beliefs passed down from generation to generation, but more importantly it has been associated with oral tradition. Hence, adding the “digital” in front of it seems counterintuitive. While many fabricated stories have gained notoriety (such as Slenderman), the digital age is a more recent phenomenon, and it has hardly passed anything down through generations, if any at all. The necessity of such a position is not needed at this point. I by no means have room to talk, because I am blog for fun (and free), but I would never adopt such a ludicrous title to describe myself. Anyway, that man and the latter half of the movie touched on the ever increasing influence of electronics and the importance they have in the everyday lives of most people. The father of Anissa felt had he not given his daughter a tablet she may not have gone down the path she had. His younger son is being mandated to use one in schools and the increasing necessity and reliance on technology worries him. At times it seemed like the film focused on technology almost as much as the crimes, without ever really acknowledging that it is doing so.

Despite all of the imagery surrounding Slenderman, I felt the creeper element of the movie was the videotaped confessions of both girls during their interviews. The way they responded to several questions just sent a chill down my spine. At one point Morgan mentioned how the girls didn’t kill Bella at the sleepover they were all at, because she wanted to give Bella one more morning, to see if the feeling to murder her would subside. Throughout, both girls phrased and said things in such a disturbing manner, that was emphasized by their young age at the time. After seeing the footage, the denial of their appeal (to be tried as children instead of adult, because of their age) seemed like the right decision. I do think it is unfortunate that children at such a young age may face a significant amount of time behind bars, but given their confessions, it is obvious the entire ordeal was premeditated with intent to kill, and once Bella was stabbed, she was left their to die. They were quite aware of their actions and there was no psychotic break. While I feel they deserve to be reprimanded for their actions, I do hope they are also able to receive guidance and therapy and Morgan will learn how to understand her schizophrenia and live with it.

I definitely think this movie is a great choice for anyone interested in crime related entertainment. Perhaps it is due to my close proximity to the crimes, but I felt engaged the entire time. While the pacing could have been improved, I felt like the overall product was well constructed and I would give it an 8 out of 10. It will definitely be interesting to see the story unfold and see whether a follow up will ever be produced.

Making a Murderer

It has been quite sometime since I have written a review or discussed my opinions on films, movies, shows, documentaries and other things. Primarily I was focusing on theatre for the majority of last year, then I was spending a lot of time working, and then I began work on several writing and editing projects. However, I have decided to start posting reviews again, and I feel like a great place to start is with Making a Murderer. There has been quite a bit of buzz around the show and I am going to discuss the merits of the documentary and my thoughts about the case itself. Please note, I have very minimal background knowledge about crime, laws, and procedures associated with trials, so if any information I provide is incorrect or flawed, I apologize. I am by no means a professional in this field and I am merely sharing my perspective about the whole situation.

With my reviews (as far back as I can remember) I would begin with discussing my perception of the overall merit of the piece (cinematography, pacing, overall story, etc.). Therefore, that is where I will begin with this my thoughts on Making a Murderer. For a production that was released in 2015, I was not overly impressed with the quality of the film itself. I needed to remind myself that most of the footage was shot around ten years ago, when the trials were going on, but about 90% of the footage was at a lower resolution and I think more current footage could have been spliced in. It was not a huge issue, but it felt like my eyes were not well adjusted to the screen.

I felt like the ten episode docuseries could have been condensed down a little bit. Quite a bit of the footage was repetitive and several segments could have been shortened with text like they did at other moments throughout the documentary. The benefit of the longer run time, in my opinion, was that it let the audience become more sympathetic for the Avery family and relatives. Personally, I felt quite awful for Steven Avery’s parents, and had they not included all of those moments with them, I may have never felt that way.

Now there are a few things I want to discuss about the show, so if you’re interested in whether I think Steven or Brendan are innocent or guilty, skip below to the bottom of my review for my specific thoughts on both of them (I will bold it).

One of the worst things that I think happens during any type of criminal case is that family of the accused are targeted by the press, media, and upset citizens. I personally do not care whether a person is found innocent or guilty, I think it is wrong to attack the families of accused or convicted felons. There have been plenty of cases of a terrible upbringing leading to someone becoming a criminal, but that doesn’t mean people should send nasty notes or death threats to the parents or siblings of the accused. It is despicable practice and if anyone does it, they should be ashamed.

A frustrating aspect of the entire case was that the state was not held accountable for the initial imprisonment. While I think the 36 million dollar settlement would have been a bit much, I do think that Avery and the others involved should have received more than the 400,000 dollars that they received and more action should have been taken against those that did not perform their respective duties in the manner that needed to be done. An innocent man spent 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, because of a faulty justice system that was more concerned with revenge over following the appropriate actions that were supposed to have been taken. As well, I think it is absolutely ludicrous that people involved with his rape case and the lawsuit against his wrongful imprisonment were allowed to be part of the homicide case. I do not know how much it holds up in courts, but there clearly would have been a conflict of interest no matter how unbiased the officers claimed to be.

I think most people who watch the series would say the four most despicable men involved are Mark, Fassbender, Len, and Ken Kratz. From the perspective of the docuseries, it seems that Mark and Fassbender coerced a confession out of Brendan. The two men kept telling him to “be honest” any time that he answered until he gave an answer that they deemed satisfactory. Len, who was meant to defend Brendan, essentially threw him under the bus and did very little to actually help him. Instead of trying to prove his innocence it seemed like he was more interested in Brendan accepting a guilty plea or finding him guilty. Either situation would have helped in the Steven Avery trial and would have added more evidence against him. My personal least favorite person during the trial was Ken Kratz. His unbearable voice made me want to switch on closed captioning and press mute whenever he appeared on screen. However, it seemed he approached the trial in an unprofessional manner and I feel he released details of the case before the trial, and that could have lead to a tainted jury.

My thoughts on the two of them:

Steven Avery – Inconclusive

Brendan Dassey – Innocent

Due to evidence provided in the documentary, I do not think there was enough evidence to convict Steven Avery of murder. The biggest thing that I think the prosecutors had against Avery was the blood in the Rav4. If the tests would have came back  having said that the chemical from the test tube was in that blood, I think that would be the proof I need to say he is completely innocent. Everything else, in my opinion, should not have held up in court. With the key, why would it have only his fingerprints on it and none of Teresa Halbach’s? The DNA from the bullet was tainted by the lab technician that was looking at it. The fact that very little of her blood was discovered on the site just seems incredibly unlikely. Nothing against Avery or Brendan, but neither man seemed intelligent enough to think to be that thorough when cleaning. In general, it seemed like the majority of the factors that comprised his conviction were based on circumstantial evidence. The main question remains, if he didn’t do it, then who did? That is where I think the police failed in both cases against Steven Avery. As mentioned in the film, the prosecutors had “tunnel vision” and seemingly went only after him. I just feel like there is not enough tangible evidence to necessarily say he did or did not commit the murder.

For Brendan, I think he was given a corrupt lawyer and at least deserves a retrial. As far as I remember only his testimony placed him at the crime scene. I could be wrong, but none of the physical evidence provided in the series tied him to being associated with the crime. Without seeing his entire interrogations, it appears that he was lead to make the confessions that he did and the investigators took advantage of a teenager who did not have the mental capacities to realize the gravity of the situation.

All in all, I think it is a good watch. It might be a bit boring to those who are not really interested in watching court cases. However, it shows the plight of an accused man, and more often than not, people don’t really get this perspective in this type of situation. If anyone reading this saw the original trial and then saw this show, I would love to hear if views have changed after watching this. Also, if anyone wants to comment, I would love to have a conversation about your thoughts on the case. I do think the docuseries is biased by focusing more on his innocence than showing a middle ground, but nonetheless it is a thought provoking show and had already engaged quite a huge number of people. Only the future will show whether more of this case will unravel and we will get more of a definitive answer of who the culprit was and if either man will get a second chance.

Garfunkel and Oats – TV Series

This is another suggestion from one of my friends of something to watch. Garfunkel and Oats is a short, eight episode comedy show on Netflix. The series is based on the lives of two 30 somethings, Riki Lindhome (Garfunkel) and Kate Micucci (Oats) and the misadventures they go on together. Each twenty minute episode usually involves them partaking in some sort of shenanigans and an original song by the two comedy singers tends to accompany some theme of that episode.

My general feeling of the show: meh. Don’t get me wrong, the two actresses are pretty good in their roles and I thought their songs were usually catchy and funny. However, the overall feeling I had from the series was that it relied too heavily on “awkward” comedy. As an incredibly awkward person myself, I did enjoy them showing characters embracing their quirkiness, but it was a little too much sometimes. There were a few times where I was cringing instead of laughing because I understood the pain of their awkward encounters.

One of my favorite episodes was the third episode where the duo decide that they are not going to talk to their blind dates and see if the men catch on. Oblivious to the situation, both their dates request a second date where they continue to give them the silent treatment, with (seemingly) continued success for both of them. I liked the episode a lot, because both Riki and Kate focused more on facial/physical expressions and both were hilarious at emoting their discomfort on their respective dates without the usual awkward dialogue.

I didn’t realize until the sixth episode that I had seen some of their music videos before. I knew that the overall premise was that the two characters were YouTube comedians that became successful with their songs, but until a few videos were spliced into a montage in that episode, I hadn’t realized I had seen them before (and that they were actually famous because of their music). Their music videos on the show definitely tended to be the highlight of each episode. Something about the camp and cleverness of the little skits tended to outshine the rest of the episode.

I didn’t like how the show ended. The final song was one of my favorites of the season, but it didn’t really feel like their was much of a pay off at the end of the last episode. Usually, you watch a show and get emotionally invested in the characters, by the end the people will either reach their goal or don’t, and then the audience has a positive or negative reaction to the outcome. The conflict in the last episode was fully wrapped up by the end, but I didn’t really have much of a response to what happened. I felt like they could have expanded on having a better story arc for the entire season. Other characters are introduced, with very few of them reoccurring, and this doesn’t allow Riki and Kate to show much development as characters, because the two of them were already well established as friends and they don’t have much conflict between themselves.

I would give the show a five out of ten. Each episode tended to have a joke here or there that stood out and made me chuckle, but I wasn’t constantly laughing and nothing really stuck in my brain as a funny joke that I’d like to share with other people. Both women are incredibly talented, and they are great in other things I’ve seen them in, but I just didn’t enjoy this show as much as I had hoped. I think if I had been a bigger fan of their comedy before watching the show, I would’ve enjoyed the series more. I’d recommend this show to someone looking for a quick show to watch and/or to people who enjoys quirky songs and awkward humor.

The Slap

A few days ago I asked friends on Facebook to recommend things for me to watch to review on here, and if the rest of the list is like the television show I just watched, I am going to be excited for what I’ll be viewing the next couple of weeks. My friend Lynnette was one of the first to suggest something and she recommended The Slap, a miniseries that aired on NBC earlier this year. The show is an American version of the Australian show of the same name that was produced back in 2011 and both are based off the same book, also titled The Slap, which was written in 2008. The show is divided into eight episodes and follows eight different individuals connected through the main event that happened in the first episode.

The show begins with a man by the name of Hector. He is about to turn 40 and his entire family is invited to his house, along with friends of the family, the baby sitter, and her best friend. While at the party, everyone starts drinking and having a good time, and all of the young kids gather to play baseball. When an unruly child, Hugo, gets upset after striking out, he begins swinging a bat erratically and doesn’t want his turn to be over. Harry comes over to take the bat away “to protect his son (Rocco)”, who is also playing. After Harry takes the bat from Hugo, Hugo kicks him several times in the shin and Harry slaps the boy in the face. Everyone gets into a frenzy because of what happens and the next seven episodes revolve around the aftermath of the slap.

Personally, I loved the set up of the show. While the primarily plot focuses on all of the characters dealing with the repercussions of the slap, each episode delves into the lives of the eight different characters featured in their respective episodes. Nearly everyone has some type of demon and inner turmoil that they are dealing with, and it is interesting to see how much those elements tie into the main plot of the show and what extraneous things influence the psyches of the characters. On top of that, the pending possibility of a trial, brings to light a lot of dark things.

Two of my favorite episodes were “Anouk” and “Ritchie”. The episode “Anouk” features the character trying to figure out her relationships with her lover and her mother. Both individuals in her life are somewhat opposite of one another, because her lover seems somewhat more clingy and idealistic, whereas her mother seems more aloof and rational. In the short episode all of the characters go on a journey to discover what they mean to one another, and when Anouk discovers why her mother has been distant (even more so than usual), the revelation and subsequent scene between her mother and her is emotional and provides great dimension to the show. Although it doesn’t focus heavily on the slap issue (because she is only a friend of the family), it still is one of the best of the eight. Another great episode is the exciting conclusion of the series with the final episode, “Ritchie”. This episode does not focus as heavily on the character it is named after, but a great deal of information is provided about him, and while some of the news did not come as a surprise (the way he portrayed the character and the way his character was written was predictable), other stuff was still startling to learn. Without spoiling the ending or any surprises, the element I loved was that it showed how people can become so obsessed with a certain objective that they will stop at nothing to achieve victory, and they do not care who they have to hurt to reach it.

Not all of the episodes were quite as enticing as these two episodes. While every episode did successfully move along the story line revolving around the slap, there were a few that fell short in making the audience discover more about the character focused on that episode. Both “Manolis” and “Aisha” fell into this category. Those two episodes had touching moments, and the latter continued on elements from the “Hector” episode, but neither quite encompassed the life and tribulations of their respective characters as much as the other episodes. With a story, not every character is meant to be sympathetic or relatable, but compared to the lives discussed in the six other episodes, these two stuck out as episodes more concerned on pushing the slap story arc further along.

Another issue that I, and other critics noticed, was how stereotypical each of the characters were. Plenty of storytelling elements have been copied, revamped, or innovated over the years, because the same stories are bound to be repeated again, but the series did not seem to try escaping stereotypes. If you can think of a stereotype of a character, it is more than likely featured on this show. Angry, masculine male: check. Infidelity: check. Wild child seeking attention in all of the wrong places: check. Matriarch of the family not liking her son’s wife: check. Not having read the story the show is based on, I am not certain whether this was a flaw of the source material or the screen adaptation, but luckily most of the performers in the show brought life to each of the characters that they play and didn’t leave them to be one dimensional.

Who doesn’t love a good ensemble show? It is quite easy to accomplish when each of the episodes is focused on a different character, but part of the greatness of the ensemble of this show arose from none of the characters outshining anyone else. On some shows there are actors or actresses that demand the screen and draw all of the focus, but most of the people on this show were at the same consistent level as one another. A few characters may have been a bit dimmer and not as highlighted as the others, but they still were close to the same caliber as the others. As well, I love seeing individuals showing their versatility, and that is one of the reasons I love Zachary Quinto on this show.  He has gone from villain to gay best friend to serial killer to a baby crazed father, and now takes on a brutish, overly masculine father. He flows easily into all of these different roles that he plays. When it comes to the acting/characters of the youngest families members, I was not huge on how little the children were focused on. It makes sense that Hugo, the teens and the adults are the primary focus, but the rest of the children on the show could have provided another side of the story by how the incident affected them. Of course, their lack of perspective could represent how it did not really affect them as much as it did for the adults.

It is interesting to see how much each different individual was affected by the situation, but it also shows how obsessed and how ridiculous that obsession is. I think The Slap is a quick watch that is a lot more emotional than it appears it would be for an eight episode run time. Despite using too many stereotypes, the show does make a great comment on society and how selfish people can be in pursuit of proving that their say is better than others. I give this show an 8 out of 10, one for each episode (just kidding, I just thought the show was that good and the eight is a happy coincidence). Underneath the selfishness and stereotypes, the great performances of the actors does draw the viewer in and will keep them entertained until the very end.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Over the past couple of years Netflix has come out with a slew of new television shows that have quickly become favorites of the streaming website’s fans. House of Cards came out earlier this year, entering its third season, but newcomer Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt seems to have stolen the spotlight and drawn in quite a fan base. Originally slated to be a sitcom on NBC, it worked out better for the series to stream on Netflix, because I don’t think that it would have reached as many people had it been on that station.

The premise of the show deals with the “mole women” being discovered after having been trapped in a bunker by a mentally unstable preacher. Having thought the world ended fifteen years prior, the women are taken to New York after rescue to appear on the Today Show. When the interview ends, three of the women choose to return to Indiana, but the other woman, Kimmy Schmidt, decides to stay in New York to find her own life and go on her own path. While that sounds like it could be the premise of a drama, it actually is an incredibly ridiculous (mostly in a good way) television show.

If you love Tiny Fey, you are going to love this show. The comedy ranges from slapstick type of comedy to social/political issue jokes, and there is bound to be something in the show that will make the viewer laugh. It definitely is the type of show worth watching a second time through to pick up on all of the small details that might have been missed. One of my favorite, smaller details that people might not have picked up on was Titus and his Broadway nemesis (Coriolanus) are both names of Shakespearean tragedy characters. It are subtle jokes like these that give it more humor than your typical TGIF sitcom.

One of the standout characters from the show, and I believe most people would agree, definitely is Titus Andromedon (played by Tituss Burgess). A Broadway obsessed actor that wants to make his big break, will stop at practically nothing to make himself famous. Under his goofy, self-absorbed exterior, he does have a big heart and believes in the betterment of Kimmy’s life. Two words to sum up his fantastic impact on the show: Pinot Noir. If you do not like this song, I suggest you get a sense of humor.

While Titus is hilarious, it does seem like nearly every single character on the show has a larger than life personality, which definitely helps draw in laughs, but with nearly every character being ridiculous, it at times can be a little hard to associate with the outlandish behavior some of them exhibit. Yes, it is comedy show not based in realism, but I still like when a show has some roots in reality because as I mentioned, it makes the characters more relatable and exciting to watch. Hence, one of my favorite characters was Charles, a tutor to the family that Kimmy is a nanny for. He’s only in a handful of episodes in the beginning of the series, and unless I missed a conversation about him leaving, he just disappears from the show and isn’t really referenced later in the season. Compared to Kimmy’s eccentric and excited passion for life, his stoic and reserved nature helped provide a nice contrast.

As the show reaches the end of the season, it seems like all of the escapades reach higher and higher levels of absurdity, but it still maintains the light air that has become associated with Kimmy Schmidt and the people in her life. No matter what happens, it seems like everyone tries to keep a positive outlook. I mean the show is called “Unbreakable” Kimmy Schmidt for a reason. However, without providing any spoilers of the ending, it did seem like the show kind of ended on a less than optimistic note. I think the idea for the cliff hanger is great, but at the same time it just seemed odd compared to the happy nature of the rest of the series.

I give this show an 8 out of 10. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes to laugh. There are plenty of jokes that tackle different styles of comedy and you are bound to find something to laugh at. Underneath all of the comedy is a somewhat heartwarming story about someone learning to fit in. Other than a teenager (acting like teenagers do), none of the other characters really make fun of her for her quirky, essentially childlike, disposition of the world. I am excited to see what shenanigans unfold next season.

Suggestions 4/8/2015

Hello everyone!

I am looking for suggestions of new television shows, movies, and documentaries to watch. I do have a list of documentaries I want to start on that were already recommend, but I am still open for more suggestions. When it comes to television I want shows that either have fairly short episodes that I can binge watch fast or a series that only has a handful of seasons. Due to work and rehearsals, I don’t want to take on a five season or more show, because I don’t want to dedicate all of my free time to watching a show. With movies, I am not the biggest fan of gore and horror, but I will still watch them. I have a massive collection of DVDs, but I’m always looking for something else new to watch. It tends to be easier to just watch something on my laptop than using a DVD player.

Mainly, I want to write about things people want to read about. Whether it is good, bad, or somewhere in between, I would love suggestions on things to watch. Maybe I’ll love your favorite show or maybe I’ll hate it, we’ll see. Either leave a comment on this blog post or on either of the other social media platforms this posts on and I will try to get to it as quickly as I can.

Coming up soon I will write about: Playground (documentary) and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (television show).

Here is an updated list based on suggestions:
Playground
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The Slap
King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
Boy Meets Girl
Garfunkel and Oates
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
Vikings
Lily Hammer
Gravity Falls
Peep Show

Steven Universe

Steven Universe is in the start of its second season and not all of the episodes of the first season have officially aired, but I still want to talk about this show. For quite some time now I have seen a lot online about this cartoon, so a couple of days ago I decided to check it out. Since each episode is just over ten minutes in length, it took me very little time to make it through the entire first season.

I believe that cartoons are meant for people of all ages, and I will probably always watch them. Some of my favorite television shows are cartoons from when I was younger (shows like Courage the Cowardly Dog and both Avatar series), but I think in recent years cartoons have divided between two paths: one focused on story and one focused on only trying to get laughs. While some story centered shows still provide laughs, I think that there has been a trend in recent years where cartoons will just focus on impossible story lines with obnoxious characters that try too hard to make the audience laugh. While Steven Universe sometimes plays up more of the humor, it definitely provides a strong narrative and it has wonderful back stories for all of the characters.

Most cartoons tend to be created in a way where episodes can be played out of order and still make sense, meaning that very little happens outside of the world for that episode. For example, something like Spongebob Squarepants might have one character end an episode in a cast and by the next one it is gone and never mentioned again. With Steven Universe, things that come up in one episode can be noted and seen later in the series. This is one of the many things I love about the show. When Steven is first introduced he isn’t entirely sure about his powers and capabilities, but slowly over time he learns more about his powers and those around him, and it is just so much fun to go on the journey with him. Largely this great journey is accomplished by the chronological nature of the show. The attention to small details makes it that much better. In the first episode “Gem Glow” a glow stick bracelet can be seen in the back of the freezer that is then a major plot device in the seventh episode “Bubble Buddies”. Later in the season when the character Sadie gets harmed during a fight, she can be seen with a scar from the battle on her face in every episode afterwards.

The character development and overall stories are magnificent. The main four characters are Steven, Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl. Steven is usually bubbly and optimistic, Garnet is essentially the strong leader, Amethyst is the loud and fun one, and Pearl is the organized and reasonable one, but what makes them great is they are not bound by these generalizations. Most cartoons tend to label one character as the funny one, one as the dumb one and so on and that character very seldom stray from those preassigned traits. This show has moments where Steven is depressed, Garnet is vulnerable, Amethyst gets serious, and Pearl loses touch with reality. Secondary and minor characters even have multiple sides to them, almost every character has depth to them.

Visibility for minority groups is another fantastic side of this show. The majority of the cast is representative of a lot of different people. There are several different families on the show that depict people of color, and even though Garnet and Amethyst are both colored as their gems, their character models seem to have characteristics of people of color. It is later revealed one of the characters is actually the fusion of two other female characters and their love is so strong they are capable of staying fused together. The show also depicts people going through depression, a nerdy girl love interest, and multiple characters with alternative designs (things like gauges that aren’t as mainstream). For people watching at home it is great to see all of these different types of people, because it shows these characters as normal people accepted for who they are. It is powerful for a child (or even an adult) to see themselves represented on television because it will make them feel more accepted.

Without a doubt my favorite thing is how they treat the story with the mother.

– SPOILERS, SKIP AHEAD IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING –

Fairly quick into the show Rose Quartz is introduced (the mother of Steven), and while it is sad to know she gave her own life to allow him to be created, it is nice to know she is still a part of him (he shares the same gem his mom had). Everyone is deeply impacted by her loss, and it is great seeing more of each character unravel when more stuff comes up about her. It adds another interesting dynamic to the show, because it shows how different people cope with the loss of a loved one. Even though she is no longer around, it is nice to see her character development through old home videos and the things all of different characters have to say about her. As Steven learns things so does the audience, and it is a powerful element to go on that journey with him.

– END OF SPOILERS –

There are very few things I dislike about the show and primarily they have to do with two characters: Jamie and Onion. Jamie is a mailman and he is the only character that has been used just once and really not heard from or seen again. All of the other characters on the show have been in numerous episodes and have more dimension, so it is just kind of odd that he was used once and basically thrown away. Onion is one of the only characters I find annoying on the show. He appears from time to time and normally comes across as the antagonist (to some extent) in the episodes he is the central focus of. Unlike most episodes, it seems like episodes with him don’t really push the plot forward and tend to just be a comedic relief type of episode.

I give this show a 9 out of 10. I feel like there is at least one character a person watching can identify with, and that is something powerful for a viewer to be able to do. Even if someone doesn’t come to watch the show for the amazing story, there are still plenty of different elements for the viewer to enjoy from the humor, to the compassion, to all of the great musical numbers on the show. I hope this becomes a staple for Cartoon Network and it ends up having a long life on the network.