The world has entered its seventh week without Adventure Time. In the mean time, the internet exploded, gamers lost their minds, nude pictures of celebrities were stolen, and I had to go back to my birth country for a while. Coincidence? I think not.
I’ve searched for the show’s new start date everywhere on the internet and glared at my Twitter feed until my eyes bled. I even did what I usually never do – I tweeted directly at Cartoon Network, asking them when the new episodes would come out. I didn’t get any answers but I’m not losing hope. Not that we were fearing a cancellation (I mean, it’s Adventure Time we’re talking about), but I can at least tell you that we’re in for a seventh season of the show! Yay!
So while we flood Cartoon Network in desperate messages and have themed rewatch sessions of our favourite animated show, how about we talk a little bit about Bubbline?
Last month, Olivia Olson spilled the beans about Princess Bubblegum and Marceline during a book signing session at Barnes and Noble. I, as well as the rest of the internet, went insane. I’ve been shipping Princess Bubblegum and Marceline for a while now. To me, the fact that they were actually a couple at some point is both very cool and pretty important.
First of all, kudos to the showrunner and the writers, who did not simply pull this out of nowhere for queerbait and fanservice, like so many other shows do. It’s one thing to have two characters touch each other and share screen time, or even a kiss, after the fans begin to ship two characters together or without ever making it more than an inside joke. It’s another thing to make the attraction between two characters of the same sex organic and genuine. Once again, Adventure Time surprised us, because it’s a kids’ show! I know that in this day and age, you would expect same-sex couples and relationships out of the social norms to be more present on TV but the medium, like every other medium really, is still quite conservative and run by a lot of people who care more about keeping Joe Public in their precious little cocoon, rather than making them open their eyes on the beauty and complexity of the world they live in.
Of course, we know that Adventure Time is better than this. We’ve seen it many times and this one is not an exception. There has been tension between Marceline and Princess Bubblegum pretty much ever since they set eyes on each other. We all remember “What Was Missing”, where Princess Bubblegum’s stolen cherished object was a t-shirt offered by the Vampire Queen, or “Sky Witch”, where PB retrieved Marceline’s precious teddy bear in exchange of the same shirt. And just in case you were wondering about the comics, check out Marceline and the Scream Queens, where Marcy is jealous of PB’s relationship with one of her musicians, while PB is the only one able to understand Marcy’s pain.
I wish I would have had a show like Adventure Time when I was a kid. I mean, queerness was an iffy subject back then . Among the shows I watched, the only ones hinting at it were usually written or dubbed in such a way that the queerness in it was completely erased, when it was not just transformed into something actually confusing. We all remember raising a dubious eyebrow at Sailor Moon when the western versions of the show pretended that Neptune and Uranus were cousins. A bit later, it was Yukito and Touya’s relationship in Card Captor Sakura that was completely erased while they left the very obvious teacher-student relationship in plain sight. Because you know, two people of the same sex being in love is so much more disturbing for kids than a 30-something man latching on a 10-year-old.
We had to wait until Tara made her appearance on Buffy The Vampire Slayer to see queerness represented in a positive way on TV. I saw Tara and Willow kiss and my honest to god reaction was not that extraordinary. I pretty much just said « huh », shrugged, and kept watching the show. To my knowledge, most kids around me didn’t mind either. It doesn’t mean that they were very aware of queerness as a whole but they weren’t very prejudiced. Kids aren’t, most of the time. Why would they be? Prejudice is a social construct. Kids mostly learn it by watching the adults around them because kids are like sponges. They’re kind of creepy but also kind of cool that way. This is why, instead of trying to protect kids from the world, we should let them soak it in so they can become better people than we are. But I digress.
Of course, even when Tara and Willow became a couple, things did not suddenly become perfect. Willow’s sexuality, for example, was never correctly addressed. See, it would have been one thing if Willow had not had feelings for men after meeting Tara. The thing is: she did. While with Tara, she admitted that she was still romantically attracted to Oz. That, my friends, is not called a lesbian. That’s bisexuality.
Now, I don’t know if Adventure Time would actually use the word « bisexual » to describe both Marceline and PB. I want to think that they would but we will never know for sure, since Princess Bubblegum and Marceline’s relationship will never be shown out in the open. See, in some of the countries where the show airs, queerness is still a crime, or at least that’s the excuse they give. Let’s not forget the Mathematical! controversy. The first attempt to bring Princess Bubblegum and Marceline’s possible romantic relationship to the front was violently rejected. To be fair to the Adventure Time team, though, we still live in a society where some people believe that letting a boy hold a pink toy is somehow going to make him gay. I can’t speak on their behalf but even if they had enjoyed the Mathematical! recap of “What Was Missing”, I’m not sure they would have been free to say so. This is partly why Olivia Olson’s revelation was so very welcome.
Queerness is still a difficult subject to bring up in a kids’ show but it doesn’t have to be that way. We started to see more and better female characters because some successful good movies and TV shows happened to have good female characters. Now, shows like Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, and Steven Universe exist and question, in their half-innocent, half-witty way, the ways of our modern society. Producers and studios are not completely closed to new ideas. They just need to see that those new ideas won’t make them lose money. This, folks, is our job as an audience.
Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for a new Adventure Time episode. My next themed rewatch will be centered around Bubbline.