Anime Reporter is still not quite over the finale of Gravity Falls. Here’s why…
So, some time in the past 6-9 months (I have no idea where I got that number from, but it’s probably accurate-ish) I stumbled across a little Disney series called Gravity Falls and… holy crap, it blew me away. It was like an awesome bizarre kid’s version of the Twilight Zone or like a better produced animated Eerie Indiana. Spookiness abounded, the humour was rampant and, while kid-friendly, was fiercely clever and original. This was a series which didn’t hold itself back when it came to storytelling or suspense either, offering mystery and ongoing plot. I’ve talked a little bit about this series before so I’m not going to dwell on the basics too much. Suffice it to say, it’s probably the best series I can think revolving around the idea of a town where weirdness and supernatural events seem drawn to the town itself.
Now, on to the business of the finale. Series two, billed as the end of the entire series, ended with a three-part story called Weirdmaggedon, which I won’t explain in detail for fear of spoiling anything, but it really is the culmination of one of the longest ongoing storylines. The third and final part of the story aired just last week, quite a while after part two, and it’s something I’ve really been looking forward to and simultaneously dreading. I’d learned some time before that this was to be the end, and in a way it makes sense. The series was set over a single summer that the main characters, twins Dipper and Mabel Pines, were spending in Gravity Falls with their great-uncle Stan. The twins turn thirteen at the end of the summer and so, in a way, the adventures and mystery and imagination of it all are really about the last summer of childhood. There’s only so long you can drag on a series while pretending it’s just one summer so I applaud the creators for knowing when to bow out… it’s just damned hard to see such an original and enjoyable series go.
This episode was magnificent. About twice the length of a typical episode, it drew on elements, plot devices and characters from the entirety of the series. It was actually pretty rewarding to see ideas and people who’d only appeared once before suddenly pop up as an important element in the end. This show has always been very clever about foreshadowing and introducing plot points gradually and subtly but it still managed to take me by surprise with a few of the references that popped up. Then, naturally, the time came for our characters to say goodbye to Gravity Falls, getting the bus home, away from the friends and family they’d gained during their stay. It was always coming. There was always going to be a farewell moment. It almost broke me a few times. Mabel, in particular, has always been the incredibly sweet and adorable member of the duo and her goodbyes made it hard to keep my composure.
Since I discovered it, this series has become one of my all-time favourites, offering humour, heart, mystery and surprising moments of darkness. It’s a great show to watch whether you just feel like watching something weird and funny for twenty minutes, or whether you want to see an ongoing mystery unravel and become even more complex. It’s to Disney’s credit that they didn’t take the easy route of making this a dumbed down “weird things happen” cartoon, but let the creative force behind it go ahead and make something truly brilliant.
Watch this series. Watch it and very quickly learn to love it. Just be warned; it ends exactly when it should, but it feels far too soon.
Okay, so, this isn’t really a spoiler exactly, but it’s something that I’ve read in a few articles online and I really feel the need to comment on. This isn’t a massive plot detail. It isn’t really anything, but I felt I should put up the half-spoiler warning anyway. I’m going to talk about the apparent shock-revelation that two of the characters, Sheriff Blubbs and Deputy Durland, are gay.
I’ve seen quite a few articles discussing this as some sort of massive moment or huge breakthrough moment, which leads me to a few possible conclusions;
- Online news is really drying up, because that really doesn’t deserve to be a story. In this day and age, two characters being gay shouldn’t be branded “news”. It should be treated with the same awe and amazement as a revelation that a character is allergic to shellfish. (You know, as in, the word “gay” doesn’t have to be treated as the polar opposite of “normal”.) It just shouldn’t be a spectacle.
- The people who wrote these articles are really fishing. The two characters in question, the sheriff and deputy of Gravity Falls didn’t really do too much to out themselves. After a life-threatening, horrific situation, the two characters said they loved each other and embraced. As in hugged. As in… held each other… as in… what’s the big deal? It’s hardly unusual for a pair of friends or partners or, sure, lovers to hold each other after going through a terrible experience and to show their relief that the other person is okay. It’s just not a declaration of a romantic relationship. Also, it’s entirely in character for the way these two have always acted on the show, which brings me to my third point;
- Whoever wrote these articles was probably not a fan of the show because, while I’m totally not surprised that people are talking about these characters as lovers, I feel like the chance to describe their relationship as news was a couple of years ago. These two characters have been frolicking and making merry and generally just loving each other’s company since the show began. They’ve constantly been distracted by the other’s whimsy or by some game or joke the other one made. In fact they often respond to a large or urgent situation by twisting it to express how much they love spending time together. What we saw in the finale was just the latest of these characters showing that they care deeply for each other and frankly, it doesn’t matter in the slightest if these characters are lovers or just caring friends and partners. It was moving, as a moment. It was gratifying to see them reunited, because, as characters, they’re people who care about each other and who felt lucky to see the other alive. If these characters were intended to be gay or not doesn’t matter in the slightest. Their bond and their humour aren’t changed at all whatever view you choose to take of it. Whether their relationship is just a positive, caring example of a gay couple or whether it’s just showing that it’s okay for two guys to be open about their feelings, they’re stars to me,
I understand that some people want to look at the revelation that these characters are gay (if indeed there was such a revelation) as a positive step towards acceptance. Yeah, no argument here. My problem is pretty much exclusively with the fact that it was given brazen headlines and discussed like come kind of controversial move. Two characters hugging, or two characters declaring their love shouldn’t be newsworthy. It only becomes controversial when news outlets tell us it is. Show kids that two characters love each other and they’ll shrug and keep watching the show. Tell them “You see, wow, isn’t that amazing and different? Because they’re men, you see that? Both of them. Men. Isn’t that new and different?” and that’s how you create a separation in children’s minds. That’s how we all take a big step backwards. I applaud Gravity Falls and its creators, though mainly just for it being an awesome show. If it also happened to include two gay characters, then I applaud that the show was subtle enough not to act like that was some big weird novelty, unlike so many online news sources who apparently couldn’t keep up with the maturity of this “kid’s show”.
That’s all from me, I’m going to go somewhere and cry that Gravity Falls is over.
Thanks for reading,