In tandem with this week’s Steven Universe review, I thought it would be best to talk about another popular animated television show to keep the streak going: Gravity Falls. This is one of my favorite shows right now, and with a series finale looming on the horizon, the 15th to be exact, now is as good a time as any to binge. But, why should you do that?
Gravity Falls takes place in the namesake fictional town in Oregon, where twins Mabel and Dipper Pines stay over the summer with their Great Uncle (or, as they say, Grunkle) Stan. Grunkle Stan runs a tourist trap of fake oddities called the Mystery Shack, which feeds his need not only for money, but also cheating people out of it. While Dipper originally thinks of his stay as boring, once he finds a mysterious book he begins to see that Gravity Falls is no quiet, country town, but a hidden sanctuary for the weird. That weird includes secret cults, living Illuminati symbols, and frisky gnomes.
Now, what appeals to me in this show is the way it reminds me of road trips I would make. I still remember going to the “Mystery Spot” on a road trip to Michigan, and I also recall how much joy it brought me to have my expectations subverted: an experience this show provides as well. While the Mystery Shack in Gravity Falls may be a hoax, the way each episode gives you an idea of what is to come, then completely flips that expectation is the same feeling I got at the Mystery Spot. The sense of childhood wonder and desire for mystery that is also matched with incredible humor that doesn’t dumb itself down “because it’s a kid’s show,” a quality I think anyone can relate to.
In terms of behind-the-scenes talent, this show is chock-full. Alex Hirsch, the show’s creator, showrunner, and voice actor for many characters in the show (including Grunkle Stan) worked on Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack prior to Gravity Falls, alongside the creators of Regular Show, J.G. Quintel, and Adventure Time, Pendleton Ward. The voice cast includes Jason Ritter, Kristen Schaal, Linda Cardellini, JK Simmons, and many more in various roles. The show even has a semi-official connection to Rick and Morty, with its creator, Justin Roiland, even voicing the character Blendin Blenjamin Blandin, a time traveler from the year 207012, on Gravity Falls.
With the amount of character and talent behind the show, it’s no surprise how much I enjoy it. I think we are lucky in a way to be living through an era that might be a golden age of cartoons; growing up with classics like Invader Zim, Ren and Stimpy, Courage the Cowardly Dog, and many more like them, it almost feels like the end of an era seeing Gravity Falls coming to a close next Tuesday. However, knowing the show will be ending on a high note, on its own terms, and knowing that Hirsch will be moving on to new, and perhaps better projects, gives me hope for the future of animated television. Although it hasn’t reached the status of shows like Adventure Time and Regular Show in terms of acknowledgement or a large blended child-adult audience, I believe Gravity Falls is just as deserving, if not more, than those shows of the same viewership. In the show’s final week, I cannot recommend watching it enough.