Blog Post

Square Moms As Well-rounded Parents

When it comes to representation in media, the twenty-tens have been a pretty promising time period so far. Along with gems like Orange is the New Black and The 100 for the adults, children’s media has been making some strides as well.
Cartoon Network, known for its quirky animated lineup, surprises once again with a show that follows in the footsteps of its popular hit Adventure Time by bringing us Clarence. Created by Skyler Page, this program is a slice-of-life narrative about a young boy named Clarence and his best friend Jeff. What makes the show worth mentioning is the episode “Jeff Wins,” in which we find out that Jeff has two moms… and, more importantly, that that’s not the focus of the episode.
In a clever visual montage, viewers see one of Jeff’s moms going through various lesbian fashion trends – one mom personifies Butch, while the other has a more traditionally femme appearance.
1st annual cookout
2nd annual cookout
3rd annual cookout
The best part, though? Although their sexual orientation is plainly presented, neither the show creators nor the characters themselves place much emphasis on it. And honestly, that’s the way it should be – non nuclear family structures are more normalized than they were years ago, especially in children’s media today, so non heterosexual relationships/parenting should be treated much the same way.
Another Cartoon Network hit, Steven Universe, blows the traditional family structure out of the water. Along with the title protagonist Steven, the show stars three leading “ladies” (I put the term ladies in quotes because they are technically gems/aliens but present themselves as female and use feminine pronouns). One of these ladies known as Garnet (featured image) is a composite or fusion of two separate women, Ruby and Sapphire (shown below), which is revealed in the episode “The JailBreak.”
ruby and sapphire
I’ve tried to make it a point to only count representation as something that is said or explicitly shown as I’m not a fan of queer-baiting… It’s an easy thing to see what we want to see. But as mentioned directly in Garnet’s song Stronger than You…
 

“Go ahead and try to hit me if you’re able

“Can’t you see that my relationship is stable,

“I can see you hate the way we intermingle

“But I think you’re just mad cuz you’re single”

 
she is “made of love,” echoed throughout the chorus.
As Steven Universe is a children’s show (and targeted to fairly young audiences), nothing explicit is shown. But when the Gems fuse, they do it by dancing, and their dances tell the tale pretty well.
We all know that representation is important, but something that many of us tend to forget is how important it is as we’re growing up. Children’s media needs more diversity – it opens up conversations that aren’t otherwise accessible for a lot of young people. I for one am excited to see what the future holds in this respect.