To be an adult and watch children’s shows is fun, light-hearted, and can take you back to a time when reality was not weighing on you every moment of the day. But when innocently watching a kid’s television show, through the eyes of an adult, suddenly things become more deep and complicated than they originally seemed.
But who says that is a bad thing! To have underlying complex paradigms about societal norms, morals, and values of today within children’s tv shows is a pretty phenomenal idea. Children are soaking up all the information around them, and with positive messages like Sesame Street telling children not to steal, it can impact those children and in turn the next generation of our world.
But wait! What if a kids television show wanted to go even more in depth and tackle ideas that adults today have not yet figured out. For instance, feminism! An innocent children’s television show can be a lot more than it seems, maybe even a groundbreaking feminist explosion!
There are several children’s television shows that have complicated messages in them regarding feminism; however, right now I will focus my attention onto one of my favorites: Adventure Time!
Basically, Adventure Time is the story of a Boy named Finn, and his dog named Jake, who live in a world known as Ooo and go on countless heroic adventures together and save the lives of the people of Ooo quite a bit. The plot of Adventure Time is straightforward at first glance, but it has many backstories and plot twists that make it enjoyable to watch.
The world of Ooo is filled with beautiful princesses; however, these characters are often satirical and break the boundaries of their roles as princesses. I personally adore the fact that almost every female character is a princess as the word princess contains a certain tone of respect to it. To me, it symbolizes that every female deserves to be treated with respect.
The myriad of princesses grows with each season. Each princess is very different and has a variety of themes to them that, in reality, a female might not be associated with. One of my favorite boundary breaking princesses would be Muscle Princess, but it does not stop with her! The list goes on to include Breakfast Princess, Ghost Princess, Hot Dog Princess, Raggedy Princess, Frozen Yogurt Princess, Bee Princess, Slime Princess, Flame Princess, Lumpy Space Princess, and everyone’s favorite Princess Bubblegum.
Princess Bubblegum is special in Adventure Time as she is the most recurring female character and she is the boss lady. Princess Bubblegum is known for her genius, curiosity, and bravery (she is less known for her lack of patience and sympathy). Bubblegum is a strong leader of the Candy Kingdom, one of the strongest kingdoms of Ooo, and is a leader among the princesses as well. In the show, you would more likely find Bubblegum buried in work in her science laboratory rather than out with her people. Bubblegum’s true passion is found in science and this intense passion can only be found in Bubblegum when she is talking about some new experiment she is working on. As science is still deemed as a masculine profession, Bubblegum’s love of science is an inspiration to women looking to join the science community.
Of course, there are not only princesses in Ooo. Another recurring female character is Marceline, The Vampire Queen. Marceline is a punk character who can rock on the guitar like nobody’s business. She runs with wolves in the night and visits her dad in the underworld for a vacation. She is the badass of Ooo.
Princess Bubblegum and Marceline seem to be opposite of one another, but in a lot of ways they are two sides of the same coin. They both show their confidence and fearlessness and each could give the other a run for their money. Maybe that is why creators of Adventure Time have come out with the fact that Princess Bubblegum and Marceline used to date!
What is even more surprising to me is the fact that creators of Adventure Time thought about cutting these to suave babes from the show because they did not think they needed to appeal to a female audience. Whether females are watching or not, a good character is a good character, no matter the gender. The idea that half of the population (men) is not interested to see the other half of the population on television is ridiculous. I am still so happy that no one decided to make that mistake (especially now that Adventure Time is being praised for its feminism).
Lumpy Space Princess is another character in Adventure Time who has a good message about her, despite her “Valley girl-type” exterior. And interior for that matter. LSP is overflowing with confidence and always raving on about her sex appeal while her body does not match the norm of society’s beauty standard. Of course, she is a cartoon, but this busty broad knows what she has is hot and it is a message to girls with insecurities about weight that all bodies are beautiful and that it is all about the confidence.
BMO is a much-loved character on the show and by far the best representation of feminism in the show. She lives with Finn and Jake, and he is an adorable little computer. Caught that? BMO is a genderfluid character that changes gender depending on the situation he/she is in. One can argue that he/she isn’t completely genderfluid because she is voiced by a girl, then again so are many male characters in cartoons (Huey from the Boondocks, Bart Simpson from you know what, Jimmy Neutron from Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius etc. etc.). Basically, BMO embodies no gender stereotypes or social influence based on his/her gender. Even in the gender bent episodes with Fionna and Cake BMO stays the same as he/she is not tied down to one single gender.
And speaking of the gender bent episodes of Adventure Time, let us talk about Fionna and Cake. Fionna’s character maintains the heroism, courage, and bravery of her male counterpart as she saves princes. Fionna is not unrealistically skinny, nor is she extremely beautiful. In fact, some say she is slightly pudgy! I personally do not agree with that, but I do enjoy a female character who fights and is not sexualized. Fionna also gives a little speech at the end of the first episode she is in, where she says, “I think the reason I got all these guy friends and no boyfriend is because I don’t really wanna date any of ‘em. I don’t need to feel like I’m waiting to be noticed. I know who I am and I’ll know what I want if and when it comes along.”
Television today puts a romantic spin to practically everything and many times girls feel as though that is something they must live up to. Young girls are dating earlier and earlier because they believe that is what they are meant to do. Rather than waiting for someone who is special, they believe they must go out with the first guy who asks. We all know the first guy who asks is usually not the one you want to marry. Fionna’s epiphany is one that should be common knowledge to all girls, they can wait and find a guy they truly like rather than feel pressured into dating someone because it is the social norm. It is one many girls, particularly in middle school, would have much use in knowing.