Today I'll be dissecting the totally mathematical show Adventure Time (2010-2018)! The show takes place in the futuristic, post-apocalyptic land of Ooo (for the most part) and follows the journey of Finn the Human and Jake the Dog.
Finn is a twelve-year-old human boy who wanders around Ooo with his brother Jake (a dog), being heroes and learning about life in the world they know and love thousands of years after the Great Mushroom Wars. These boys have plenty of friends and a lot of backstory that the series dives into right from the beginning.
If you like cartoons with child-like wonder and surprisingly thought-provoking plots that can still shatter you emotionally, then Adventure Time is the ten-season series for you! It may be rated for children by Cartoon Network, but this show appeals to all ages.
Now, this is the part where I tell you to LUMP OFF if you don’t want any spoilers. If you don’t know what the flapjack I’m talking about with this Unicorn Review stuff, then head over to the refresher page and the Business Werewolves will break it down most efficiently.
What I Liked:
This story is truly unique and I felt engaged throughout the entire series— yes, all ten seasons. At times, certain aspects could be predictable, though overall the plot was beyond creative and always had something new to offer in this fantastical land.
One of the main characters is Marceline the Vampire Queen. Marcy is totally the spooky bi we all feel we are in our bones. She likes to rock out on her battle-axe bass, and despite her hard outer-shell, she has a soft spot for her good friends, Finn and Jake. As we learn more about Marceline, we see more of her past, including her rocky relationship with the devious Ash, who she eventually leaves. Important note: no man is worth keeping if he tries to profit off of selling your precious childhood stuffie given to you by your adopted apocalyptic father. Okay, so what? We see her with some jerk. Classic heteronormative cartoon, right? WRONG.
As the series goes on, we eventually see her begin a relationship with none other than the nerdy Princess Bonnibel "Bonnie" Bubblegum. The writers string us along for quite a while leaving the queer viewers unsure if Bonnie and Marcy are becoming good friends, or if there is something more. There are several small hints that Marcy and Bonnie are in a relationship throughout the later seasons. Their romance is finally confirmed in the finale when they share a kiss and later are seen cuddling on the couch together.
This also gives us our second, not-so-obvious bi character, Princess Bubblegum. Although she seems to enjoy her relationship with science more than people, we do know that she has had relationships with men in the past. In the episode "Slumber Party Panic" we learn that Mr. Cream Puff and Bonnie "used to date".
What I Didn’t Like:
Bonnie and Marcy's relationship left me feeling a little queer-baited; the relationship was hinted at for so long and we got so little in the end. It was validating when the finale finally confirmed that Marceline and Bubblegum were dating like I had been assuming. But— it was a rough couple of seasons for me while I waited for that confirmation.
It is also worth noting that originally, there was more about Marceline and Bubblegum’s relationship in the promotional video “Mathematical!” where Marceline talks about her feelings for Bubblegum. It was uploaded to Frederator Studios' blog but was soon taken down. Producer Fred Seibert said,
In trying to get the show's audience involved we got wrapped up by both fan conjecture and spicy fanart and went a little too far.
After this incident, the two were hardly seen together for the next two seasons. It seemed like Adventure Time was working to make sure no one thought Marceline and Bonnie were romantically involved.
I understand that international cartoons have to be careful since other countries have stricter laws in regards to their LGBTI representation, but I still felt cheated. I also would have liked more confirmation of Bonnie being bisexual, many people claim that she's a lesbian, since her relationship with Mr. Cream Puff is very short-lived and wasn't explored very deeply. I don’t expect a child’s cartoon about a fictional world in the apocalypse to have too much dialogue on sexual orientation, but I think more backstory on Bubblegum’s thoughts about dating and who she dated would have been insightful and help squash any confusion.
While I do love so much about this show and am absolutely enamored by the plot and all of its wondrous characters, I think they dropped the ball on this loving relationship. Adventure Time is all about acceptance and understanding. I think that they could have done better if they had been more explicit about Marceline and Bubblegum's backstories and romance.
By the end, the show did finally give us this kiss that we'd all been waiting for, but there was still an entire series of dancing around the issue. If you're going to have representation, then represent!
Since the series ended with the two canonically together, I am keeping my fingers crossed that the four-part Distant Lands special will give us more about Marcy and Bonnie.
Because we were finally given that kiss and some cuddles, I am happy to give Adventure Time three Unicorns.