I remember watching an episode of Steven Universe while on vacation at a hotel in Seattle, and really not getting into it. I’d heard good things, but the random episode that I saw just didn’t do it for me. I immediately loved the art style and character design, but the story just seemed off-the-wall-bonkers and it didn’t suck me in. I decided to go back and watch the beginning because the art style was so interesting to me but, unfortunately, the first few episodes really didn’t do it for me either. Once again, I thought the show looked great and had some funny gags, but nothing made sense at all, and that just kept me from getting sucked in.
That was a few years ago now, and I’ve continued to hear amazing things since then. This past weekend, I decided to dip back in from the beginning again and ended up watching about five or six. And you know what… it still didn’t pull me in! Again, the show looks beautiful, and it has some funny jokes, but it doesn’t have give the viewer a compelling overall narrative at the beginning. I get the sense that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that I’m not privy to which should intrigue me, but for some reason, it just doesn’t have me hooked.
I think that this is coming partially from an experiment my wife and I tried where we were going to make a podcast based around watching the pilot episodes of TV shows. We only recorded a few episodes and never ended up putting them out there, but what I noticed in the episodes we did is that a lot of pilot episodes do a really good job of telling you everything you need to know about the world to feel comfortable in it. Steven Universe deliberately does not do this. Instead, it peppers in little hints about the backstory, letting you know that things are not normal, but doesn’t tell you how those things work, what those differences are for, where they came from, or much of anything at all!
I ended up watching about five or six episodes of the show in a row, and then got frustrated and went away. Since then, though… I’ve continued watching. And I think it finally has it’s hooks in me. Part of what brought me back was listening to a podcast called Steven University, which covers the show on an episode by episode basis. The premise of the podcast is that it’s two guys – one who is a huge fan of the show and one who has never seen it. The fan assured the noobie early on that everything will get explained, and that piqued my interest and made me want to keep going. I haven’t gotten to any explanations yet, but I’m hopeful that I’ll start getting them soon!