Adventure Time: Breaking the Mould
Written by Georgie Proud
Adventure time, it’s the most MATHEMATICAL show on TV, but not just because of the crazy adventures the residents of Ooo get up to. It’s also packed full of awesome characters that throw the gender stereotypes present in so many other shows (not just cartoons) on their heads. It’s all about gender equality, and I bet you didn’t even realise.
Not just a Princess
Right about now you might be thinking “But Adventure Time has more princesses than a Disney movie marathon, ” but there is one major difference between Sleeping Beauty and Princess Bubblegum. The princesses of Ooo actually do other stuff rather than just being princesses and looking pretty. Princess Bubblegum is a scientist, Lady Rainicorn can fly, change the colour of things and speak Korean, Turtle Princess is a librarian and Doctor Princess is a doctor. (OK she’s not really a princess, it’s just her last name) The Adventure Time princesses have personalities as fully developed and weird as the male characters in the show, which make them just as interesting to watch and allows narratives (sometimes whole episodes) to revolve around them. They are not the passive princess waiting in the tower to be rescued that we are used to, they are every bit as active and adventurous as Finn and Jake.
Fionna and Cake
Then there’s the most obvious subversion of gender stereotyping in Adventure Time, the gender swapped episodes. In these episodes all of the characters swap genders including the main protagonists Finn and Jake (becoming Fionna and Cake). This is HUGE! Can you think of any other show that would swap the genders of its entire cast as if it was no big thing? These episodes tell us that we can achieve anything, regardless of gender, Fionna can wield a sword just as skillfully as Jake. Fionna breaks the mould again by turning down a date with Prince Gumball because she doesn’t need a boyfriend, something our old friends at Disney wouldn’t dream of. The female lives don’t revolve around finding a partner, they are whole whether they are in relationship or not. The first gender swapped episode was the most watched episode of the series when it came out, with 3.315 million people watching it and positive reviews from fans and critics, proving that the old excuse that boys don’t want to watch female protagonists is just plain wrong.
BMO is probably my favourite character, and also happens to identity as both male and female (is non-binary). BMO is the only character who’s gender doesn’t change in the gender swapped episodes as they already identify with both genders.
But what is binary? The gender binary (binary means two) refers to the way our society often talks about gender- that there are only two options, female or male. There are lots of people that don’t identify with either male or female, or identify with both. So it’s helpful to think of gender as being much broader than just male and female. And this is exactly the way BMO’s gender identity works, it’s changes depending on how they are feeling.
LSP & Body Love
Although Lumpy Space Princess’ personality is basically that of a angsty teen, she has an amazingly positive attitude about her body. OH MY GLOB, she is fabulous, and she’s knows it! LSP is so confident she’s become a poster girl for positive body image and junk. I think we could all take a leaf out her book and love our lumps a little bit more.
Marceline the Vampire Queen
Then we come to Marceline, who is just hands-down rad. She is a thousand year old half-vampire half-demon who plays an electric bass she made out of her family’s heirloom battle axe. Totally rock’n’roll. She’s also complex, first introduced as a villain but soon becoming a friend to Finn and Jake she can be scary and tough, or kind and compassionate. She also dumps her gross sexist ex-boyfriend Ash for being a d-bag. (He literally tells her to get back in the kitchen) She’s yet another example of the show’s fully formed female characters. What a babe.
Finn and Jake
Last but not least we have Finn and Jake, who are both bro’s and brothers. (Jake’s parent’s adopted Finn after finding him in the woods) Although a lot of their characteristics are stereotypically male, they totally look after each other, and aren’t afraid to talk about their fears and show their emotions. Their relationship involves so much more than just fighting evil, they hang out together, cook and Jake knows when Finn is going to cry, aspects of male friendship that most other cartoons leave out.
Adventure Time also focuses on fatherhood in the episode “Jake the Dad” when Jake’s girlfriend Lady Rainicorn gives birth to puppies. Jake takes on the role as caregiver of the pups, and struggles to deal with the new responsibility. It’s something you probably wouldn’t see in any other show, and never assumes that Lady will be the only one looking after the puppies.
These are just a few reasons Adventure Time is so great, and I’ll leave you with yet another one:
Georgie lives in Melbourne with a dog called Murphy and a cat called Worms. She is passionate about social justice issues and feminism, and is one of the co-creators of Rosie. She loves music, travelling and getting crafty.
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