„That road you’re on… leads to nowhere.“
Adventure Time is the newest addition to my roaster of TV shows I’m following. It not only directly appeals to my off-beat kind of humor, it also turns out to be surprisingly deep, considering its short episodes (11 minutes) and its main audience are children (as it is broadcasted on Cartoon Network). For the first time on my blog, I will be doing these reviews in English. While my layout doesn’t exactly support that decision very well, it does make sense for several reasons:
- As an English major I’ve always felt closely linked to this language, also indicated by my frequent English quotes and many anglicisms in my German reviews. I would also like to just get more used to writing English essays, as I believe that might come in handy at some point in my life or another.
- Unfortunately, Adventure Time doesn’t seem to have a great following in the German speaking community, particularly not among adults. While I have successfully convinced a few friends of mine of Adventure Time’s quality, there just isn’t a big enough German readership to follow this show.
- I absolutely adore reading reviews of television shows. Whenever a new episode hits the television, I will at least spend as much time reading reviews as watching the show. Apart from my beloved A.V.-Club, however, hardly any websites seem to offer weekly reviews on this lovely show. Providing reviews for Schnell ermittelt, and interesting yet previously unreviewed Austrian cop-procedual, was one of my prime motivations to start this blog, and Adventure Time fits the bill here.
It has been some time since the show has touched on Princess Bubblegum, particularly surprising since her role has taken quite a turn since Finn is no longer interested in a relationship with her. „The Suitor“ tries to make up for that – it does not quite examine what PB thinks of Finn no longer seeing her that way, but we do see some other guy, this week’s protagonist named Braco, mirror Finn’s bygone plight. He’s 21 years old, has taken up is ancestor’s place in the queue for prospective suitors for PB (apparently, his family has been queuing for 300 years or more, and whenever one of them ‚ascends‘ their heirs inherit their spot in the line), and is madly in love with Bubblegum. Except he isn’t, really – we’ve never met Braco before, and neither seems PB. Braco suggests he’s been meant to to inherit the family quest from the beginning, and as such sees himself as the best suitor for the princess.
He isn’t wrong, mind you. All the other candy folks are either far too old or disghusting or both. While he is too young for PB, just like Finn was, he at least possesses some level of maturity, yet not the maturity to realise what position he really is in. It doesn’t matter if he is the best candidate for her, not even if he is a love magnet – in the end, it’s PBs decision, and she doesn’t seem to have a crush on anyone. She isn’t really the femme fatale that Braco imagines her to be (and a cliche Adventure Time did a good job to avoid), the one he can woo by romantically meeting her in the garden, dressing up fancily or do heroic deeds for. Just like Finn he has to learn the hard way that PB doesn’t want to court him, no matter how awesome he tries to be, even going so far as to resist his ‚love magnet‘-self (though I’m not sure the demon’s spell worked at all). There’s a lesson to be learnt here, of course: no matter how perfeclty you think you would fit together, reality might just look very different for the desired partner. I both enjoyed and disliked how Adventure Time chooses to go for the easy way out and create a Bubblegum clone that fits Braco’s every needs – it’s random fun, but sort of undermines the episode’s message, as the character’s decisions don’t matter in the end, after all. (On the other hand, PB never created a robo clone for Finn, which I guess should mean a lot.)
Throughout the episode the notions of her being a scientist are reinforced, as she scientifically wants to figure out what love is, how it works, how Braco is affected and how to ‚cure‘ him. She calls his profession of love an ‚infatuation‘, his anguish is a product of him ‚overevaluing a projected imaginary relationship‘ with PB – for anyone who’s ever been madly in love for only superficial reasons, that should hit close to home. Braco indeed turns out to be that very guy who is madly in love, but cannot really articulate why he is, or what he likes about PB. „The Suitor“ touches upon a few really nice things such suitors do: emotionally write a diary, cry from time to time, risk ones live to prove how much in love one is, and my favourite: learning how to win over a woman’s heart through superficiality, taught by an ancient book called ‚mind games‘. Yep, sounds like a foolproof way to succeed, but staying true to his character, Braco doesn’t realize.
I love when Adventure Time does these mature contemplations of love, life and death that obviously go well over children’s head, but still manages to deliver a somewhat jolly adventure. „The Suitor“ marvellously works on an allegorical level, but falls a little flat on its appeal. Braco doesn’t make for a particularly appealing main character as he just doesn’t the energetic vibrance that Adventure Time usually radiates so well. The lack of Finn and Jake was quite evident in this episode, as was showcased by the rather dull adventure trip Braco takes to acquire the soul stone. There weren’t too many laugh-out-loud moments either – it’s definitely one of the episodes that takes a little while to sink in.
I haven’t come round to watching all of Adventure Time’s episodes yet, I’m particularly light on episodes from seasons 2 and 3 – so in the meantime, I won’t quite be able to get all the references the show does. I have no idea why Cinnamon Bun would voluntarily be a vessel for an evil demon, or what the glob actually happened in those first 30 seconds – what the hell were that lion and the guardian angel doing in that random cave? I am, however, somebody who’s a huge fan of randomness, and I’m convinced art can often just be as entertaining when you don’t quite understand it all. I liked these sight gags a little less than the spectacular residents of the treehouse in „5.20 Shhh!„, but did have fun watching overall.
– I didn’t really intend to, but read the A.V.-Club article before writing my essay, which definitely biased me while writing. Next week I’ll deliver 100% original content, I promise.
– „Err, this feels super wrong.“
– What’s up with Peppermint Butler slapping PB? The abrupt ending suggests there won’t be a consequence for that, which just seems weird. Then again, it’s Adventure Time, so why do I wonder it has a weird ending?
– Why, is that a human that’s inside PBs cage? Sweet tidbit that reminds me of just how much more info we would get on the history of Ooo if Finn and Jake could just ask the right questions.
Love Braco’s idea of being in a relationship, tellingly naive. have babies and get fat and weird together.
Conclusion: 7,5 out of 10 points.
„The Suitor“ is rich in its portrayal of an allegory, but doesn’t quite have the spark that the more vivid Adventure Time episodes exhibit. This other take of a guy trying to woo PB is an interesting contemplation, though, as it shows the show has not only moved on from Finn’s original naive crush (by introducing Flame Princess), but has also come round to reflect on it.