The Cartoon Network animated series “Steven Universe” has been a cult hit ever since it debuted in 2013, and this year it’s nominated for its third straight Emmy for Best Short Form Animated Program, but it hasn’t won yet. Will this be its breakthrough year?
“Steven Universe” follows the adventures of its title character, who lives with the Crystal Gems, humanoid aliens who possess magical powers. Steven himself is half-Gem, and his story has earned praise not just for its creativity but for its progressive approach to themes of gender and sexuality. The series was created by Rebecca Sugar, who explained her inspiration for the show in 2016: “There’s this idea that these are themes that should not be shared with kids, but everyone shares stories about love and attraction with kids. So many stories for kids are about love, and it really makes a difference to hear stories about how someone like you can be loved and if you don’t hear those stories it will change who you are. It’s very important to me that we speak to kids about consent and we speak to kids about identity and that we speak to kids about so much.”
This year “Steven Universe” is nominated for the episode “Mr. Greg,” which aired July 19, 2016. The episode explores the relationship between Steven’s father Greg and Pearl, one of the Crystal Gems. Pearl resents Greg because she was in love with Steven’s mother Rose, who chose Greg over her.
“Steven Universe” is up against its fellow Cartoon Networks series “Adventure Time,” another cult favorite, which will end its run in 2018 after nine seasons. Actually, “Steven” creator Sugar was previously a writer for “Adventure Time” and earned a pair of Emmy nominations for the series: Best Short Form Animated Program in 2011 and 2013. “Adventure Time” eventually won that category in 2015, but Sugar didn’t share in that victory.
Rounding out the category are “Marvel’s Rocket and Groot,” “Mickey Mouse,” and “Teen Titans Go!” Besides “Adventure Time,” “Mickey Mouse” is the only previous winner in the category, having taken this prize in 2013 and 2014.
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