Of all the TV trends I missed, Gravity Falls was probably the biggest. Everyone I knew was talking about it when it first aired. My family watched it almost non-stop and it was one of the most frequent topics of conversation among my friends. I can’t even tell you why I skipped it, I just… did.
Let’s fix that, shall we?
Dipper and Mabel Pines have been shipped off to live with their Gruncle Stan for the summer up in Gravity Falls. But not all is at it seems up in this seemingly quiet town. Spooky monsters, mythical creatures, and mysteries are abound. Can the twins unravel the truth of this town? And more importantly: should they?
At its core, Gravity Falls is your typical kids cartoon. Every episode, some new conflict arises. In trying to deal with it, the characters will usually only make it worse. Then they’ll learn a valuable lesson, overcome the conflict, and walk away from it as better, smarter people. Your average kids cartoon with your average morals; embrace who you are, don’t be selfish, don’t run away from your problems, etc. etc.
What makes Gravity Falls stand out are three things: the characters, the paranormal elements, and the mystery.
This is a show where anything can happen. Ghosts and gnomes and robots and time travelers, you name it, it’s probably around in this little town. Hell, there’s an episode where a video game character comes to life (that whole episode is just a love letter to old Capcom arcade games and I love it). Truly, this is a world of mystery.
And it can get surprisingly dark and frightening for a Disney show. I let out several loud exclamations of “Oh my god!” over the course of my viewing. Legit, how did Alex Hirsch and his team get away with some of this stuff? However they did, bless ’em for it.
The mysteries are surprisingly well-done, as well. They don’t take center stage, so none of them are too obvious. We’re given the occasional line of dialogue or an odd drawing, and every now and then we get a full episode focused on the overarching mysteries of the series. Who wrote the journals? What is Stan up to? Just what is Bill? They’re surprisingly compelling and truly mysterious.
At least, if you don’t already know the answers. Which would be quite the achievement, at this point.
Of the three aspects I mentioned earlier, the characters are the best of the lot. If you tell me you don’t love this bunch of idiots, then I don’t know what to tell you. Dipper and Mabel have one of the best sibling relationships I’ve ever seen on television; they may bicker and they may fight, but they’ll always make up in the end, and they’ll play and work together just as often. Soos is a chill dude that I would actually love to hang out with in real life, and Wendy is so cool that it’s easy to see why Dipper crushed on her. But none are more enjoyable than the gruff, sarcastic conman Stan. If ever I end up being an uncle, I am definitely going to be a Stan.
It helps that all the voice actors absolutely bring their characters to life. Alex Hirsch makes Stan a delight (as well as the dozen or so other characters he voices). Jason Ritter may not sound like a twelve year old, but he puts so much life and awkwardness into Dipper that it’s easy to forgive. Hearing Kristen Schaal voice a little girl who isn’t psychotic is jarring, but god damn it if she doesn’t make Mabel charming as hell. But my personal favorite is Thurop Van Orman as Gideon.
Even if it is weird to hear Flapjack acting like a colossal asshole.
The animation in this show is stellar. All of the characters have a sort of round softness to them that makes their designs highly appealing, at least to me. And in motion, every single one of them looks amazing. The whole show is just so delightfully colorful and energetic.
Also, the theme song is a banger. I can’t remember the rest of the OST, but that opening song was pretty cool.
I can see why Gravity Falls was, and likely still is, so popular. It’s a delightful show that perfectly balances comedy, mystery, and morals. The whole thing is just fun to watch.
And from what I’ve heard, season two is even better. So hey. That’ll be fun.