"Steven Universe" showrunner Rebecca Sugar is evidently not one to take the path of least resistance. For instance, she has been not just politically correct in including LGBT representation in her series, but also found it incumbent upon herself to make a stand on educating children regarding the wider sphere of sexuality that exists in the real world through her children's show.
One would think that it is rather like walking on eggshells, taking it up in a show that is intended for very young people. Yet, watching "Steven Universe," one would be surprised by how smoothly it is introduced and taken up, as with an episode recently shown about the characters Ruby and Sapphire.
As the shells crunch underfoot, the show uses a slow and easy, even subtle, approach in introducing the idea of love and flirtation between the characters, emphasizing on the idea that such affections are acceptable and healthy, too.
This approach has not only been employed on Sapphire and Ruby. A whiff of romance has also been observed between Peridot and Amethyst, and Pearl's remarkable affection for Rose Quartz.
Sugar believes it is important for children who identify with being LGBT to see mirror images of themselves, even — and especially — on a cartoon show. Teaching these children this idea as being an everyday, normal thing is a crucial key to their development. And more importantly, having such characters in her show give them representation that signals to them their being different after all means that they, too, matter. That love can also be for them. That it is something they can aspire to and also hope for.
Eventually, it is not just about projecting the correct response to an expectation now being given a lot of attention on media. Sugar has stood under fire defending her stand to the School of Visual Art's Society of Illustrators, saying "You can't wait until kids have grown up to let them know that queer people exist. There's this idea that that is something that should only be discussed with adults — that is completely wrong. If you wait to tell queer youth that it matters how they feel or that they are even a person, then it's going to be too late!"
Young LGBT individuals are reportedly figuring highly on homeless counts and suicide lists. If these young people are not given a place in society from early in life, they will not have an opportunity to understand themselves. But finding a show like "Steven Universe" can help them find themselves.
Sugar goes on to talk about films that have been made for children to teach lessons about love and the dream of finding The One.
"I think a lot about fairy tales and Disney movies and the way that love is something that's always discussed with children. You're told that you should dream about love, about this fulfilling love that you're going to have. The prince and Snow White aren't someone's parents, they're someone you wanna be. You're sort of dreaming about a future where you will find happiness. Why shouldn't everyone that? I loved Disney movies when I was little, but I didn't really feel like they were me, ever."
A children's film and TV network, the Cartoon Network United Kingdom was criticized for censorship of the episodes where the "Steven Universe" characters mentioned displayed such attraction. It has not responded publicly to the situation.
The show's third season run can be a very conducive playground for children to learn that happiness is for everyone, regardless of who it is they love.