So Gravity Falls has ended. When I first heard about this I was very sad, possibly angry, and just kinda well, sad that this super awesome, witty, funny, smart, Kristen Schaal staring show would be ending. Then I learned that is excatly what creator Alex Hirsch wanted, that this is what had been planned for, and this was the way things were supposed to play out. And I’m ok with that. Sure a thrid season would be nice, but I say bravo to Herish for drawing a line and sticking to it and not giving us never ending cashgraps until a thing that we loved just looks sad and pathetic like certain other franchises. (Cough: Spongebob, Family Guy, The Simpsons, South Park, Star Trek, Star Wars, The Hobbit, the entire YA Dystopian genre, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, basically every AAA tentpole series, the whole slasher genre, Deadpool, Spider-man movies, the Sims, Sim City, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Yu-gi-oh, nearly everything else Disney makes. Cough) Its a creative choice that’s better for the work as a whole, so once again, Bravo Mr. Hirsch.
But I’m not really here to talk about Gravity Falls‘s ending, rather I’m here to talk about its legacy, which feels weird to say for show that’s just now ending in its second season. And it is weird. Truth be told the legacy of Gravity Falls so far isn’t entirely its own doing. Instead, at least until we’re a few years out and can see its existence having an actual impact on pop culture, its mostly part of a new tradition I’m starting to notice, a tradition of children’s media that does the radical thing of respecting its audience. For a really, really, long time Children’s media has been thought of as, well to be frank, meaningless multicolored shit to shut the brats up for a few hours, and this is a terrable notion. Lindsay Ellis brings it up here around the 8:50 mark. And she has a great point. Children’s media shouldn’t be shit just because its for kids, that’s what leads to Spongebob. Luckly, I think we’re seeing the start of a new era in children’s media, where stuff for kids doesn’t have to be brightly colored commercials for cheap lead paint covered toys. Rather it can tell emotionally complex stories with actual plot that believes its audience has more than half a brain cell. True there’s Pixar and Dr. Seuss, but those have always been the rare good things in children’s media, but now we have more. We have Avatar: the Last Airbender which shows us some of the moral complexities of war with a diverse cast of complex characters who grow and change over the seasons; and its sequel series, Legend of Korra, which actively engages in (very light) critiques of political philosophy. We have the darkly beautiful, practically spiritual tale of wayward souls that is Over the Garden Wall. We have the unique, fun, energetic, and creative wonder of Star vs. The Forces of Evil. There’s the diverse, big, and epic Young Justice. And Steven Universe! Can’t forget to mention that smart, funny, and forward thinking show. And as different as all these shows are, they all respect their audience, they’re all smart or creative or different. Even when they’re seen only as toy ads they manage to break out of that mold and tell good stories filled with emotion and passion. As far as I’m concerned that’s only a good thing and I’m grateful as hell that this is a trend rather than some isolated examples. I’m honestly jealous that I’ll mostly be missing what a generation who grew up on this will be creating.
So as Gravity Falls comes to an end, I feel confident that it live long.