Matthew Recommends: “Gravity Falls”

Every now and then, a TV show comes along that really surprises you.

Recently, I had one of those experiences with a cartoon called Gravity Falls.

Six_strange_tales
I had previously overlooked this cartoon for one main reason: it’s on the Disney Channel. Now, obviously, this was pretty unfounded on my part. After all, my favorite show is Phineas and Ferb, which is also a cartoon on the Disney Channel. But I came to discover and love that show because some of my best friends had recommended it to me. I had never heard any of my friends talk about Gravity Falls.

I do remember a couple of my sisters showing me an episode a couple of years ago, though, when the show was new. Apparently, they had caught a bit of the show while we were on vacation — the only time when cable TV is available to us. So I sat down and watched what I would eventually discover was the second episode of the series. Honestly, I don’t remember being all that impressed with it. So I shrugged the show off and forgot about it for the longest time.

But, a few months ago, I came across some recommendations of the show by a few different YouTubers I watch. Some of them included Gravity Falls in lists of cartoons they liked, while others did whole videos describing why it was such a great show and more people should check it out. My curiosity grew, and I searched and searched until I finally found a website where I could watch full, uncut, unaltered episodes. I put the first episode on and, to my delight, found that I really liked it.

Later, I watched the next two. I recognized the second episode as being the one I had seen before, and now appreciated it more now that I had seen the first episode. I also enjoyed the third episode pretty well.

This is good, I thought to myself.

A few weeks went by before I remembered to watch some more of the show. And by the end of the fourth episode, I was completely hooked, largely due to a clever twist that had me hungry for more answers.

As of today, I’ve finished watching the first season (20 episodes) and have started the second, along with my siblings, some of whom have watched all of them with me while others have seen only some. But enough about my experiences with the show. What about the show itself, and why am I recommending it?

ALEX HIRSCH (CREATOR, "GRAVITY FALLS")

Well, first of all, it’s a really high-quality cartoon. It was created by Alex Hirsch (seen above), an alumnus of the California Institute of the Arts, who is young but clearly full of talent. The animation is great, the characters are great and very likeable (despite some of them being quite flawed), the humor is great and often laugh-out-loud funny, and — perhaps best of all — the show is a continuity-based whirlwind of mystery.

Let me explain with the premise of the show. Dipper and Mabel Pines are preteen twins who have been sent to a town called Gravity Falls, Oregon to live with their Great Uncle Stan (or “Grunkle Stan,” as they call him) in the woods for the summer. There, Stan runs a “tourist trap” called the Mystery Shack, where he shows off fake exhibits and sells merchandise based on the legends of paranormal activity and other anomalies surrounding Gravity Falls. The twins work there along with man-child Soos and lanky teenage slacker Wendy. Dipper thinks it’s going to be the most boring summer ever, until he discovers that all is not as it seems in Gravity Falls — in fact, the legends of ghosts and monsters may actually be true.

The main cast of the show. From left to right: Soos, Dipper, Grunkle Stan, Mabel, and Wendy.

The main cast of the show. From left to right: Soos, Dipper, Grunkle Stan, Mabel, and Wendy.

That’s all I can really say about the story for now — as I said, the show is about mysteries, secrets, codes, and all that kind of fun stuff, and I really don’t want to give any of it away.

There are a few content concerns — some rude humor here and there, fairly frequent talk about puberty and all of its awkwardness, some occasional questionable messages (e.g. lying “for the greater good”), and the show might be a bit scary for young children — not to mention, the paranormal aspects of the show might give some pause for some people, even though it is a cartoon. Also, it should be mentioned that Grunkle Stan is a greedy con man, as can be seen in how he takes advantage of naive tourists with his fake exhibits and such, so he’s not exactly a great role model. On the plus side, however, most of his antics are played for laughs, and he does have a good heart overall. As a general rule, I would say that the show is probably appropriate for preteens and up.

For me, the positive aspects of the show outweigh the negative. I’ll talk about just a couple of examples, in addition to what I’ve already said about the technical quality of the show. First, Dipper and Mabel. They have a realistic sibling relationship, in that they do fight sometimes, but they always make up, and they clearly care for each other. Dipper in particular is a very selfless brother who always chooses what’s best for Mabel rather than himself in the end, and Mabel’s infinitely positive personality is a great influence on her brother, who can sometimes be negative. In addition, I’ve already mentioned how the show is about mysteries and codes and such, but to elaborate, I cannot emphasize enough how fascinating it all is. As the series progresses, there is just enough revealed and just enough kept secret to keep you coming back. There’s even a coded message in the credits of every episode for you to solve. Also, the music is great. It really enhances the mood in certain scenes, and the instrumental theme song grows on you pretty quickly.

I’d better stop myself before I ramble for too long, though. To summarize, it’s a great cartoon and you should definitely check it out. Just keep a couple of things in mind: it’s a little more mature in content than other cartoons like Phineas and Ferb, and you should (nigh on must) watch it in order due to its continuous narrative.

Where to watch if you don’t have cable? Here’s the website I found, which has all of the currently released episodes: all of Season 1, all of the currently released episodes of Season 2, and all of the shorts which came between the two seasons. And remember, you didn’t hear this from me.

http://www.toonget.com/gravity-falls

Have you seen the show before? Tell me what you think of it in the comments! If you haven’t and you decide to check it out, come back and then let me know!

See you guys next week!

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