Steven Universe: Mr. Universe
March 21, 2020 5:11 AM - Season 6, Episode 15 - Subscribe

Greg takes Steven on the road to find the origins of the Universe name.
posted by sugar and confetti (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Aw Greg. Simultaneously Best Dad and a terrible parent.

It's wild for me to be watching SU Future and Star Trek: Picard at the same time. Jean-Luc Picard was always a very fatherly figure to me, in part because he shared a lot of qualities with my own dad (including the fact that everyone around him both loved him too much and was too intimidated by him to tell him off to his face when he needed it). Now Picard is digging into a lot of that character's flaws at a time in my life when I'm learning to be more honest about my dad's flaws. No one's perfect.

At the same time, as a new-ish parent myself (I started watching SU when my child was an infant) I've viewed Greg--or certain aspects of him, at least--as being an ideal dad: his unconditional love and understanding, the way he treats his son's thoughts and feelings as valid and inherently worthy of value... but goddamn, did he fail at giving any semblance of a stable home life to his child.
posted by sugar and confetti at 5:20 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]


This episode was so frustrating for me. The original episode featuring "Dear Old Dad" was about Greg being kinda selfish and how it affected Steven. In the time since then, we saw Greg mature a bit- he helped Steven through the "fight" with Connie, he helped Ruby through her "breakup" with Sapphire, he reminded Steven that even though Pink/Rose was complicated, above all she wanted Steven to exist and be his own person. And then this episode happened. Yes Greg was an unconventional parent, but he had evolved into an actual Parent. And now he's not again? I love this show with a passion bordering on obsession, but I really wanted to smack Greg upside the head on this one.
posted by dogmom at 5:38 AM on March 21


Yes Greg was an unconventional parent, but he had evolved into an actual Parent. And now he's not again? I love this show with a passion bordering on obsession, but I really wanted to smack Greg upside the head on this one.

I don't know if it's unconventional -> conventional -> unconventional. I think Greg was always unconventional. I'm still unclear about why Steven lived at the beachhouse with the gems in the first place. I think he got more involved, but it's never been a nuclear family. I have more to say about Steven's gem legacy in the Episode 16 thread because -- watch episode 16.
posted by mikelieman at 5:47 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


It's an old story: You resolve to never repeat the mistakes your parents made, so instead you make a whole new set of mistakes, and you're often blind to them. Your children didn't deal with the nonsense you had to, so they're better for it, right? Maybe, maybe not.

As far as Steven is concerned, the grass is greener on the other side. Stability is something he never had as a kid, so that's what he sees when he looks at Greg's childhood. He never got meatloaf every Thursday, he never had girls sign his yearbook, he never got any of the things the humans around him like Connie get. Would he be happier if he did? All he knows is he sure isn't happy right now.

Greg has always been very mature and capable of giving good counsel, except when it comes to himself. He lives in a van. He runs a car wash. He hasn't stopped being a rebel since the moment he left home, and he still rebels long after all the things he rebelled against are gone. What does Greg actually want? He doesn't care, he maybe doesn't even know. His vision is turned entirely outward, taking in the world around him that he felt was denied him for his whole childhood.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:59 AM on March 21 [7 favorites]


As far as Steven is concerned, the grass is greener on the other side. Stability is something he never had as a kid, so that's what he sees when he looks at Greg's childhood.

That's not true though. He's spent his whole life in Beach City, either with his dad or with the Gems. Greg's been present and accessible the whole time. The Gems are literally changeless. Even his "gem legacy" stuff didn't really start happening till he was an adolescent. He has a photo from every birthday in the same hat and cape. Like, it's stable. More stable than a lot of human kids . He's never moved. He's never done first-day-of-school or having friends move away or anything like that. There's really big problems in that itself, because stagnant is still a problem, but its stable.

What it isn't though is normal. Steven's doesn't even have a framework for what normal looks like, so it's whatever he doesn't have. Greg seems to have had what Connie was cruising towards - micromanaged, laid out with no room for deviation. On rails. Like that shit's fucking horrible for kids. Steven couldn't even cope with Little Voice telling him what do do when he was in the Zoo. He'd die in a house where every moment of every day of his life was planned out for him.

But.

That, my friends, is what aimless Steven wants right now. To not have to think about what he's supposed to do, or make his own decisions. He wants to have a destiny back because he's so fucking lost right now. It seems glorious to just sit back and yield control, just like becoming Stevonnie seems like a perfect solution because Stevonnie has all of Connie's forward thinking and planning in there and that aimlessness evaporates in them. The Demayo household with a road map and decisions made for him is just what he desperately desires right now.

He's desperate for someone to tell him what he's supposed to be doing.

The Gems sucked at raising a child. Greg on the other hand really has done the best I think you can do with what he was given. He kept his son near the only people he knew could understand how he was different, even if it meant giving up his music and living in a van. I always suspected there's only so many jobs to go round in a town the size of Beach City, so the car wash is a good stable place for Greg to work. Even Steven's outrage at "we lived in a van!" hides the bit where they built a house for him at the temple, on the beach, walking distance from his father. He didn't live in a van. He was five or six when they build him the house. And Greg let his wife's ex lover raise his son, even though he knew she hated him, because he believed she was better equipped to teach him how to be a gem, and stayed there as close as he could to do everything that he could.

I think Greg was a bad parent the same way everyone's parents are bad when you're sixteen and feeling lost. This is Steven's journey, right enough, and we're seeing how much his parents suck and they just don't get it. Like a lot of the horrible shit that's happened to Steven was well and truly out of Greg's hands no matter how he parented his son and Greg has been on the receiving end of a lot of it himself.

But yeah. I have feelings about this, but doubting the truth of how Greg raised Steven is not one of them.
posted by Jilder at 7:01 AM on March 21 [10 favorites]


The vast difference in parenting methods between greg and his parents makes me want a "world's okayest mom" shirt.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 8:32 AM on March 21 [5 favorites]


I don't think Steven was raised "wrong" per se, it's just frustrating that Greg, who is usually so good at the emotional stuff, was so off the mark with helping Steven here. It felt like Greg was only seeing Steven as a young Greg and what worked then will work now. Greg is usually more nuanced than that.

Also, do they not have therapists in this version of Earth?
posted by dogmom at 11:49 AM on March 21


Around the time I saw Moana I theorized the Jemaine Clement would get stable work for decades doing his Bowie impersonation in animated television and so far it looks like I’m right.

Also, Bowie is going to be for kids today what Orson Welles and Peter Lorre were for me: a voice they know from a thousand animated impersonators whose original owner they’ll know nothing about until at some point (probably around high school) they get their little minds blown while exploring old media.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:14 PM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Man, this show is very good.
posted by eustatic at 11:03 PM on March 21


I thought the Crewniverse were going for Lou Reed or Iggy Pop more than Bowie. "Mr Universe" is very "Perfect Day".
posted by Jilder at 5:10 AM on March 22


It was very prog-rock for sure, and felt more Bowieish singer-wise. And that sort of wide-eyed enthusiasm and overly sincere lyric has definitely been Greg's thing.

What Steven isn't thinking about is that Greg DID reach out to his parents...all those unopened letters!! Greg's parents clearly decided never to speak to him again and so wouldn't have been good grandparents for Steven either.
posted by emjaybee at 2:08 PM on March 22 [6 favorites]


> What it isn't though is normal. Steven's doesn't even have a framework for what normal looks like

But he knows what a yearbook is, and immediately digs for a photo he knows will exist. Despite never going to school.
posted by pwnguin at 7:26 PM on March 22


Everything Steven knows about what constitutes "normal" comes from pop culture, which is just further reason why his sense of "normal" is so skewed. The kind of meatloaf-every-thursday nuclear family is pretty prevalent on sitcoms, which is further reason Steven might resent Greg. Steven is imagining an alternate world where Greg brought him back to the DeMayos and let them raise him and he got to have an ideallic sitcom childhood.

That's not what would have happened, of course, but that's not what matters to Steven, and Greg's main failing is being unable to articulate why, or what the downsides of such a life would be. I think this is because Greg himself has never really unpacked his childhood. All he cares about is it's over and he escaped and he was never going to subject his own kid to the same thing.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:06 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Steven is (understandably) not thinking clearly about this. He had the opportunity for a very orderly existence when he went to Homeworld and cosplayed as Pink for a while. He didn't agree with being told what to do by White Diamond, in the same way that Greg wasn't able bear being controlled by his parents. Of course, there are some significant differences between WD expecting him to be complicit in committing war crimes/genocide versus a bad haircut, but the pain of being forced to pretend you are something else to be acceptable is the same.
posted by past unusual at 12:12 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


What Steven isn't thinking about is that Greg DID reach out to his parents...all those unopened letters!! Greg's parents clearly decided never to speak to him again and so wouldn't have been good grandparents for Steven either.

Did you guys notice that the music that played while Steven was exploring the house was "Dad Museum," from way back when they found the laser light cannon in Greg's locker?

That house is so saddening. That sign that reads "Love Lives Here," despite Greg's absence. How they left Greg's room exactly how it was when he left, despite it being probably eighteen years since then. How Greg was absolutely sure they'd be gone to their timeshare just like when he was a kid despite them not having spoken to him in all that time. Andy starts to seem like a relatively reasonable part of the family.

It's such a shame the show is about to end, because there's all this stuff with the DeMayos that has been very lightly explored. We've had a handful of scattered hints at this whole world. I've got more to say about Steven and his reaction, but that's best saved for the next episode.

BTW: "Florida Island."
posted by JHarris at 7:40 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


I didn't catch that, JHarris. That's remarkably sad. The fact he had to hide his music to prevent it being thrown away is a clue to why he has that hoarder's locker, too. It's pretty common for that kind of trauma to manifest as hoarding later.
posted by Jilder at 1:02 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


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